by JASON MEREL
Local home flower business Sunnyside Plants plans to expand into a storefront at 5340 W. Lawrence Ave. in Jefferson Park hoping to flourish amid a global pandemic and share its passion for unique flowers with the community.
Owner Ann Vo said the storefront space is not officially open for business yet, pending final approvals on licensing from the city, but serves as a showroom and storage space for her current inventory of plants. She said she had signed an 8-month lease so the business will be open until at least April.
“With COVID, it seemed like too much of a gamble to do a full-year lease,” she said. “This is my very first business and opening a business during COVID is risky but I think it was worth the risk.”
Vo said the business started about 4 months ago when she left a corporate job directing several departments at a frozen hors d’oeuvres company, from product development and Food and Drug Administration compliance to sales and marketing. Vo said that after 9 years of grueling hours, she took time to travel and reconnect with friends and family.
During that time, she said she became obsessed with house plants and started finding unique plants for friends and family. When their houses ran out of room, she started selling the plants or taking them to plant swaps. She said she met several other people that shared her passion for plants and the hobby turned into a business.
“Now I spend my time looking at Facebook to see what other people have purchased,” Vo said. “Sometimes I’ll travel 2 hours to a nursery so I can bring something back to the Chicagoland area.”
Vo said it was extremely important for her to open the business in Jefferson Park or Portage Park since the community had shown so much support for her home business and various pop-ups.
One of those pop-ups was in a space adjacent to Sicilia Bakery, 5939 W. Lawrence Ave. Vo said she saw between 200 and 300 visitors and settled more than 100 transactions so she knew the business was viable as a storefront shop. Now she said she wants to provide other local home businesses the opportunity to sell their goods or host their own pop-ups.
“There are a surprising number of house plant enthusiasts in this neighborhood,” she said. “Something that is important to me is supporting other local businesses and artists. I encourage anyone that is a maker or an artist to reach out to me.”
She also mentioned the possibility of holding very small events at some point in the future, as well as plant swaps and “take-a-plant, leave-a-plant” events.
“We’d have to keep in mind capacity for COVID but it would be nice to provide something positive for people to talk about something other than COVID,” Vo said. “I look forward to being able to educate people on how to take care of plants and cultivate an environment of community.”
For more information, call 773-336-2558.