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Backlot Coffee co-founder Isaac Bloom always had an affinity for plants. Despite his success in the coffee business, Bloom was itching to see if another type of business could flourish in his second coffee location in Evanston. His dream to launch Plant Shop Evanston became a reality during COVID.
Right before COVID-19 hit, Backlot Coffee took over the previous location of Other Brother Coffee House on the corner of Grove Street and Sherman Avenue. They had to shut down when the pandemic was at its peak and then decided to pivot their plans.
Plant Shop Chicago owners, who have a plant store on the north side of the city, were regulars at the Chicago Backlot Coffee location. Bloom and the owners became friends over the years and when Bloom decided to transition into something new, an extension of their friendship felt natural.
“The business was really built based on the friendship of our two brands,” he said. “We decided to bring a plant shop to this corner to try something new in Evanston and give the community something different.”
The shop is co-owned by Backlot Coffee and Plant Shop Chicago, but that doesn’t stop Evanstonians from coming into Plant Shop Evanston looking for coffee. Although they don’t serve coffee any longer, Backlot Coffee beans, gift cards and coffee-scented candles can be purchased.
But Bloom doesn’t see coffee and plants as that different. “It seems like the coffee community and the plant community are kind of one of the same,” he said. “We are also meeting new people now who didn’t come to Backlot before, so that’s really exciting.”
The owners of Plant Shop Chicago are in charge of ordering inventory that comes from growers and propagators. Once a week, typically on Wednesdays, the shop turns over their inventory with their new items. Although they have only been open for about a month, Bloom has noticed shoppers pay attention to the ordering schedule and plan their visits for Thursdays or Fridays.
The shop consists of cacti, succulents, tropics and house plants of all kinds. Bloom said their goal is to always be bringing in new and interesting items. They recently had Venus flytraps that sold out immediately, so they are looking to get into carnivorous plants as well.
“We are trying to figure out who we are going to be in the plant world,” Bloom said. “We are slowly finding our identity and building our presence and just sort of figuring out what we’re going to do next.”
Coming up the shop will be looking to do more plant-based events such as potting or wine and plant nights, partnering with local businesses, craft makers and artists. In addition to plants, the shop has partnered with Laura Swanson of Swantiques to find and curate antique pots.
Chicago artist Emmy Star Brown, who created the shop’s logo, will be painting a mural in the shop live, part of a public event, with the live painting occurring during business hours. Plant Shop Evanston will be posting more details in the coming weeks.