City Grange’s holiday pop-up shop is sprouting new life into a historic building near Loyola for plant lovers during the special season, with the goal of becoming a perennial business in the area.
Just off the Granville Red Line stop, the store will inhabit the old Granville Pictures Framing and Gallery building, which has been empty since its closure in 2017.
Founder and president of City Grange, LaManda Joy, lived in Edgewater for 10 years and understands the added weight of setting up shop in such an iconic building.
“We’re the second business in there in 90 years,” Joy said. “It was a framing shop for 90 years, so there’s a little bit of responsibility there.”
The plant company has a history of refurbishing old buildings and adding their own floral flourishes to the inside, making this location a natural fit. Their other two locations in Lincoln Square and Beverly were operational auto body shops, also built in the Roaring 1920s.
“This one, just coincidentally, was also this amazing vintage space,” Joy said. “So, I think I might have a little obsession I didn’t know about.”
From the outside, the quaint Granville Pictures sign above the door is a familiar sight to anyone who frequents the Edgewater area. The two windowed walls facing West Granville Avenue and North Broadway Street, let passersby see the plants reaching themselves toward the sunlight coming through the glass.
Inside, the space is peacefully packed with friendly foliage. Snake plants slither up from the ground and pothos look like they’re falling from pots hanging above one’s head.
Currently just a holiday pop-up shop, City Grange has grand plans to become a permanent part of the Edgewater ecosystem once spring starts to bloom.
“It kind of fulfills a need in the neighborhood that everybody’s been wanting,” Chris Kurka, City Grange’s operations manager, said. “If all goes well, we’ll be back in March as a brick-and-mortar store.”
In the first week of its opening, Corinn Cameron, a senior at Loyola, has been to the pop-up three times in just four days.
“Especially in an urban city like this, it’s nice having something so close,” Cameron said. “I was having to drive, like, thirty minutes to get soil.”
For those apprehensive about caring for a living thing, the employees are quick to offer assistance in finding the plant that’s best for any customer, their commitment issues, and their unique light situation.
Lisa Burton, an educator for City Grange, couldn’t pick just one plant as her favorite on a walk around the store but raved about their vanilla bean orchids and philodendron micans. As an educator, Burton writes educational content for local and national gardeners, as well as consulting with clients on a regular basis.
Beyond plants, the store also features a selection of floral-themed totes, journals, bags and wall decorations. Any lunar enthusiast would feel very welcome, as pots displaying each phase are strewn about the shop.
For those with pre-existing plant paraphernalia in their home, City Grange offers guides to plant care, fertilizers, aromatherapeutic incense and anything to make one’s little plant friends smile from root to stem.
Part of City Grange’s inspiration comes from the Victory Gardens of the mid-1900s, which was intended as a “civil ‘morale booster’” in post-war America, according to the City Grange website.
Joy credits her upbringing for teaching her to have deep-rooted aspirations.
“My 94-year-old mother was a Rosie the Riveter and my dad was in the occupied forces,” she said. “I grew up with that, sort of, ‘We can do it!’ World War II ethos.”
The historical connection grows even deeper, back to the Civil War with the Grange Movement. Beyond being the namesake for the brand itself, Joy explained the initiative provided a community for farmers moving east to west to educate others on how to grow their own food.
This rings true with the motto in large print on City Grange’s free pamphlets: “Shop. Learn. Grow.”
Kurka promised more plants in the coming days, as well as “Christmas-y gift ideas” for anyone’s loved ones, whether the present is potted or otherwise.
City Grange’s goals go beyond becoming successful, as they hope to provide the people of Edgewater an endearing spot that adds a bit more greenery beside the lake.
“Small businesses succeed because the community supports them,” Joy said. “If they like having cute stores in old vintage buildings, then supporting small businesses is really great.”
Planting itself in the history of Edgewater, City Grange plans to grow into the future of the community.
The store is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and starting Nov. 27, will be open daily.