WICHITA — Chris Coburn is once again reconfiguring his business, this time with a little help from his friends.
Last year, Coburn created Roots & Bloom out of Wichita Wholesale Florists to attract retail customers in addition to the floral shops the company sold to for decades.
Now, he’s expanding to showcase other businesses within his downtown shop at 151 S. Laura.
“This little collective is kind of a cool way of doing business, and I don’t think it’s practiced very much in our area,” Coburn says.
“I had some space that was kind of fallow as far as I was concerned,” Coburn says. “I thought that maybe they would have a nice home at my spot.”
Each business will have a sign out front, but Coburn says that “cumulatively, that will be the umbrella basically of Roots and Blooms.”
Previously, the OnionTree had its own space near Douglas and Hillside.
“I wasn’t ready to reopen yet,” owner Bridgit Yinger says. “He just gave me a really sweet deal.”
She’s still in the process of moving the local artwork she sells into the shop.
“It’s a cool, cool setup,” Yinger says.
She says her artists still will have an outlet, but “I don’t have to physically be here running it anymore.”
“It’s perfect for me.”
Yinger likes that Coburn has invited the other businesses as well.
“He’s got a lot of really good ideas.”
Ilsik Hong says his nursery, which is at 8904 E. 31st St. South, is more of a final destination for shoppers.
“You just have to set your mind to come out to our location.”
So he likes having a presence in the central part of the city to sell pottery and potted plants.
“That area is a totally different type of a clientele that we think we are exposing to,” Hong says.
His son, Dail, encouraged him to open there.
“There’s a market that’s down in that area that’s just untapped, and (there’s) not anybody to serve that market,” Dail Hong says.
He says it especially makes sense to cater to people living in condos downtown.
“The urban trend is to move back to the downtown area,” Dail Hong says, and he wants to sell “things that people can do on their patios or on their balconies.”
“We’re just kind of trying to feel it out right now and see what happens.”
Brent Dorrah’s ACI Design Studio is around the corner from Roots & Bloom at 1425 E. Douglas. Coburn thought ACI’s patio furniture would be a good fit and could be sold outdoors at Roots & Bloom.
“I thought it was a great idea just for … people looking for that urban-type outdoor living space,” Dorrah says. “What we wanted to do is just kind of show people in Wichita some of the more modern options. … You don’t have to do that everyday look you see in those big-box stores.”
Outdoor furniture isn’t a big market for ACI, but Dorrah says he likes the idea of being at Roots & Bloom “just to pique people’s interest and maybe drive some of his traffic down to our showroom to show people everything we can do.”
Overhead Door, which also is nearby at 333 S. Laura, will sell pergola at Roots & Blooms. It’s not in yet but soon will be displayed over ACI’s patio furniture.
Coburn calls the entire arrangement “kind of a unique way of doing things.” He says it offers the businesses a second site without having to pay more rent.
“It makes my store more shoppable for people who want to browse downtown,” he says. “It really diversifies my offerings to the consumer at no cost to me or them, really.”
Coburn says he has two other spaces available – including 5,000 square feet upstairs and 1,000 square feet in the back – but he’s not looking to fill them just yet.
“I need to chew what I bit off so far before I go biting anything else.”