Madisonville’s Bramble Avenue recently welcomed Fleurish Grounds, a plant-slash-coffee shop that started in a local resident’s garage in June of last year. The shop is a product of a long-time dream for Christine Kim, who first became inspired to combine botanicals and coffee in 2010. At the time, she was living in Thailand, where she frequented a small locally owned coffee shop surrounded by the owner’s plant collection.
Fast-forward to 2019, back in Cincinnati, Kim began learning more about coffee from local roasters, and eventually, she decided to launch a mobile coffee and plant cart to take to farmers’ markets. In April, Kim was gearing up for Fleurish Grounds’ first farmers’ market, but the coronavirus pandemic put her plans on hold.
“Everything was a mess at that point,” she says. Instead of waiting for farmers’ markets to reopen, Kim visited her local greenhouse and bought a small sum of plants, and took her business to Instagram. She quickly built a social presence and started offering porch pick-ups and drop-offs for plants. After Ohio lifted quarantine restrictions, Kim says that’s when “things got interesting. A lot of people were eager to come out and see the plants in person.” So she decided to set up shop in her garage, and “it was a huge turnout,” she says.
The challenges of launching Fleurish Grounds didn’t end there, though. The city threatened to shut Kim’s operation down for operating in a residential area. “It was us against the clock,” she recalls. Kim secured a building within a few weeks, and within two months she had it renovated and up and running. She says it was essential to move quickly to keep their momentum going.
Fleurish Grounds’ bright and airy interior is inspired by West Coast spots like Palm Springs and Joshua Tree in California. Because the business stemmed from Instagram, Kim says she wanted the store to be Instagramable and selfie-ready.
The shop carries mostly tropical houseplants, although Kim says she tries to stock various plant options for beginner and semi-advanced plant parents. Plants that are fairly easy to care for include snake and ZZ plants, while the shop’s seven-foot fiddle leaf fig or eight-foot cactus are good options for people with more knowledge of plant care.
Due to their shop’s size, Kim couldn’t fit an entire café. Instead, customers can enjoy espresso, lattes, and iced coffee drinks in the shop’s coffee corner. It’s pretty minimal for now, but Kim hopes to showcase a mobile coffee cart in the spring. The shop also offers giftable items like jewelry, T-shirts, books, and handmade pots from artists around the U.S. “I wanted to take this opportunity to showcase independent artists,” Kim says.
Kim says independent plant stores allow for better care for plants than big retailers, which means better quality plants. It also allows for a relationship between the owner and the customer. “The garage allowed me to get closer to the community and the people here,” she says. She plans to sustain those relationships and her love for plants in her new space.