LINCOLN SQUARE — Beloved plant store City Grange has closed its north and south locations, but its owner is hoping a return is still in the cards.
City Grange opened in the spring of 2019 at 5500 N. Western Ave. and quickly became a hub for the North Side gardening community. He opened a location in Beverly the following year, helping to meet a demand for more gardening supplies during the pandemic.
Both stores are now permanently closed, confirmed owner LaManda Joy. The decision to close was made after Joy returned to the West Coast for family reasons, she said.
Shops closed for the holidays after Christmas and never reopened as Joy eventually decided she couldn’t run the businesses from afar.
“It’s so heartbreaking for me,” Joy said.
While the Beverly and Lincoln Square locations are permanently closed, the business could return to Edgewater.
City Grange has opened a holiday pop-up in the longtime home of framing store Granville Pictures, 6200 N. Broadway. That business closed after the holidays, but the business still holds the lease on the historic storefront, Joy said. City Grange could restart in a clean fashion from there, she said.
“Our goal is to reset, to scale it down a bit, so I can make it work from afar,” Joy said. “It’s still plausible.”
Joy opened City Grange after a decade as a prominent member of Chicago’s urban gardening community. In 2010, she founded the Peterson Garden Projectthe community gardening group that started with one garden and now has thousands of volunteer gardeners and six plots across the North Side.
With the Peterson Garden Project becoming such a success, Joy wanted to open a brick-and-mortar store to provide new and seasoned gardeners with organic supplies.
“With the creation of so many new gardeners, we knew they were going to have to buy their supplies somewhere,” she previously told Block Club. “We thought, might as well buy from us.”
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City Grange sold plants, seeds, gardening supplies and more. He offered various gardening kits and provided training for newcomers to the hobby. The company has also launched a vocational training initiative to attract more people, especially young people, to the landscaping and gardening professions.
The company had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic a year after its creation. Although the pandemic has seen a increased backyard gardeningplant stores still faced the same challenges as most local businesses during the pandemic, Joy said.
When she returned to the West Coast, Joy said the difficult decision was made to close the business she had dreamed of for more than a decade.
“I had been working on City Grange since 2012,” Joy said. “People think about it [business closings] on the economic plan. These are people’s dreams.
A silver lining, Joy said, is that the City Grange location in Beverly will be used by Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea, an Auburn Gresham cafe that has moved to 99th Street. Joy said she’s glad the space is going to another small business and hopes the same will happen at the Lincoln Square location.
“We put a lot of love into these stores,” she said. “It’s great that other small businesses can use it.”
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