One thing you can count on in a city as vibrant as Bloomington is that it offers something unique around every corner. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has its grip of restraints, Bloomington’s downtown retailers are forging ahead by recreating their environments and boosting new accommodations.
If you’re feeling the weight of isolation and are tired of endlessly scrolling every social media page, grab your besties for an overdue girls’ day out downtown. It’s a great way to support the local community, and it’s a lot of fun!
So, grab your hand sanitizer and mask with the realization, that this is the “new fashion statement of 2020” and hit these local, women-owned hot spots.
Like many during these times, hair roots have been starved of the pure joy of color they deserve, which is why this excursion should begin at the Royale Hair Parlor. From hair coloring to highlights, cuts, and trims, Royale Hair Parlor has an abundance of services to make you feel and look beautiful.
Given that many are overdue for their ideal hairdo, Royale suggests scheduling an appointment a few weeks in advance, especially for small groups who want to attend together. Private appointments are currently offered on Mondays and early mornings. Take advantage of a Zoom consultation to help ensure you get the most ideal time block for everything you want to be done.
Like many of the downtown retailers, Royale is placing your best interest at heart by ensuring each stylist’s station is 8 ft apart from the next and limiting the number of occupants in a suite at one time. Clients are asked to wait to enter the salon until it is time for their appointment. From there, a masked staff member checks everyone’s temperature entering the salon. Following each appointment, stylists allot extra time between clients to thoroughly sanitize their spaces.
Royale’s Owner, Bridgett Vohland, shares, “We have had a mixture of responses from clients. We have some of our regulars that are still waiting to come back. We have some clients that were eager and could not wait. We also had some of our regulars, from the past, who came back because of the added safety precautions we are taking.”
To learn more about Royale Hair Parlor or their services, visit RoyaleHairParlor.com. To make an appointment, you can call 812.360.1860. Or, if you need some inspiration, follow their pages on Instagram and Facebook.
Next up on our list of hot spots is located across the downtown square at EllieMae’s Boutique, owned by Marcy Cook, inside Fountain Square.
EllieMae’s offers a diverse assortment of items such as Pandora and Brighton jewelry, Vera Bradley travel bags, totes, and backpacks, phone cases, home décor, dinnerware, Brumate beverage holders, candles, and other gift type items. A selection of cards, and free gift wrap, is available as well.
If you know or have an IU student, choosing one of three Survival Packs to mail their way is a great idea. The packs come loaded with an assortment of snacks, vitamin C packets, hot teas, and more. Basically, everything needed to keep their brain and energy performing at optimal levels!
Or for the bride or mother-to-be, there are lots of must-have trinkets, décor, and gift items. The best part is, they even offer discounts to the bridal and parents-to-be registrants.
Wendy Scherschel, EllieMae’s Store Manager, shares the type of COVID protocols they have in place, “Customers and staff are required to wear a mask while in EllieMae’s Boutique. We sell masks and hand sanitizer in the store. We also have sample hand sanitizer available for customers and staff to use at the counter after currency and products are exchanged. We use a disinfectant throughout the store before it opens and periodically throughout the day. The card machine is wiped down after each customer as well.”
We saved the sweetest stop for last – Nat’s Bakery and Café – located on the lower level of Fountain Square. New to the downtown scene, Nat’s Bakery and Café offers a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items available Monday – Saturday from 7am – 5pm. Nat’s occupies the former space of Stefano’s Café, which has been renovated and now showcases a stylish, chic environment with the best aromas in town.
Breakfast items range from classic favorites such as breakfast sandwiches or wraps made with sausage, egg, cheese, and fried potatoes grilled in a warm tortilla shell, to build your own omelets, and unique items such as stuffed pancake tacos! If you need a zip in your step, locally roasted and specialty coffee drinks are available too.
Lunch and dinner items range from grilled paninis, wraps, and cold-cut sandwiches, to gourmet salads, soups, and sides. Natalie Strauser, Owner of Nat’s Bakery and Café, shares that some of the favorites are, “The chicken and mandarin feta salads, and the Roma panini sandwich.”
And, let’s not overlook the bakery side. It’s filled will an assortment of mouth-watering cupcakes, pies, scones, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and more! For vegans and gluten-free patrons, Nat’s has items to meet your dietary requirements as well. Custom cakes and pastries are available to order as well.
For healthcare workers and students, show your IDs to receive 10% off.
Keep an eye out for the launch of Nat’s Bakery and Café website, which is still in the works. In the meantime, you can scope out its charming café and tasty baked goods on either Instagram or Facebook.
Let’s face it… a day of pampering and shopping, mixed with some good-ole quality time and laughs, topped with a tasty meal, and your favorite pastry can’t get any sweeter. Grasp the moment, ladies – it’s time to make plans to hit the downtown for that girls’ day out that is long overdue!
PS – to make this trip even better – take lots of worthy Instagram pics and tag the local businesses!
Other shops and services located in downtown Bloomington include…
Cup & Kettle Tea Co.
Bloomington Massage & Bodyworks
By Hand Gallery
Lash & Co.
O’Child Children’s Boutique
Precision Eye Group (Coming Soon)
Spectrum Creative Group & Gallery
The Briar & The Burley
The Code & Key Escape Rooms
Royale Hair Parlor
VIP Nail Spa