BUCKTOWN — When Larkspur flower store owner Beth Barnett decided to transform her floral design studio into a retail shop nearly 10 years ago, she came across a Bucktown storefront steeped in more than a century of local history and was immediately taken with it.
The building at 2123 N. Damen Ave. once housed Flo's Bake Shop, and Barnett was told at least two other family bakeries were there before that.
"I felt the neighborhood needed a flower shop," Barnett said.
To preserve some of Flo's old charm, she kept as much of the bakery equipment around as she could. Cedar troughs once used for mixing flour and raising dough became part of the floral display, and wood baking boards and baking trays were repurposed to show off some of Larkspur's gift items.
"I have a passion for the spaces that I'm in," Barnett said. "They're very important to me, and I get inspired by them, and I've been inspired by my space."
But on Thursday, Barnett is shuttering the retail side of her business and moving out of Bucktown to once again run a design studio, this time from a loft building in Near West Side.
Her new location at 333 N. Oakley Blvd. will take orders for weddings, parties and more by appointment only, much like she the way she started her business in 1994.
"It's about keeping the business creative and interesting and also, being in the wedding business and the floral business in general, you kind of have to change with the times," Barnett said.
Most of her business comes from pre-orders, she said, and shutting the retail operation and moving into a more affordable building makes better financial sense going forward.
"I kind of feel like 10 years in retail was a good amount for us and that it was time to kind of move on to the next phase," Barnett said.
Moving to a larger building will also allow her to focus on offering more floral classes, workshops and continuing to collaborate with local restaurants and other stores for their displays. Also expanding is the farm in Buchanan, Mich. that grows some of the flowers for Larkspur.
But the move is made difficult by all of the memories she'll leave behind in the Damen Avenue building, like the time her shop arranged flowers for the granddaughter of one of the bakers who worked in the building through the Great Depression, Barnett said.
It was an emotional moment, she said, when the bride's father came to pick up the bouquet and gazed upon the family's old bake shop. Barnett was told that during the Depression, the bride's grandfather gave out loaves of bread to the neighborhood for free.
"There's a lot of history in this space," Barnett said.
Through Thursday, Barnett is offering deep discounts throughout the store, including plants at 50 percent off and bath and body products 10 to 15 percent off. She'll also have discounts on vintage plant stands and jewelry.
"I will definitely miss my space," Barnett said. "I will miss the interactions I’ve had with my wonderful customers, and I can't even put into words how much I appreciate every one of them."
Larkspur moves to 333 N. Oakley Blvd. No. 111 after May 27, and the new business number is 312-226-5567.
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