UPTOWN — JT and Charlie Murray found the perfect Uptown storefront for their dream business, a home-and-garden showroom named Hearthstone & Terrace that combined their expertise.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. With retail businesses shut down and furniture deliveries delayed due to closed factories, the Murrays had to retool their plan.
They decided to open Friday as a garden center, selling seasonal plants from the shop’s patio at 1329 W. Wilson Ave. Hearthstone & Terrace might have a slightly altered business plan to start, but the move will hopefully fill a community need while introducing the shop to neighbors.
“We wanted to grow into our patio space and focus on the interior first,” said JT, who lives with his husband Charlie in Rogers Park. “When we knew our furniture isn’t coming in, we said, ‘How can we make it work?'”
JT closed his Andersonville home goods store in July 2019, deciding to open more of a home furniture and design showroom. He enlisted Charlie, a botanist who has worked at the Garfield Park Conservatory, to help bring a garden design showroom to the store’s 1,800-square-foot patio.
But then the first roadblock came. Furniture orders were not being filled after factories were forced to shutter. Illinois’ stay at home order also meant that retail stores could not open.
The state’s order was eventually eased, allowing retailers like garden centers to open for business. The idea to shift into more of a garden center came from opportunity and necessity, the Murray’s said.
“COVID threw our business opening for a loop,” Charlie said. “We’re trying to adapt and make the best of it.”
Hearthstone & Terrace will stock a variety of seasonal flowers, plants and vegetables as well as indoor tropical plants. The plants will be displayed on the store’s patio, which will be taped off for one-way flow and will be restrictive in the number of customers allowed at a time.
Plants can also be ordered in advance for curbside pickup. Some of the inventory can be seen on the business’ website.
The shop will be open as well. A portion of the showroom has been staged with the furniture that has been delivered.
“People will at least get a glimpse of what we’re going for,” JT said.
Eventually, Hearthstone & Terrace will resemble the design showroom the Murrays had meticulously planned. In the meantime, the business owners are glad to introduce themselves to the neighborhood.
“We’re very hopeful,” Charlie said. “The neighborhood has been so supportive. It’s been a warm reception already.”
Hearthstone & Terrace, 1329 W. Wilson Ave., will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Monday. For online orders, click here.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.