UPTOWN — The plant and gift shop Qideas is temporarily closing to allow for the revamping of its space, which will be home to a community organization’s new creative space, bar and cafe.
Qideas, 1134 W. Argyle St., will also be home to Haibayo, a community focused nonprofit looking to enhance Uptown’s Asian business and cultural corridor and provide opportunities for its residents, artists and makers.
Haibayo’s new space on Argyle Street will include a community space with room for a business incubator and programs for the public. It will also house a cafe and bar and a re-conceptualized Qideas, the plant, gift and restaurant supply store that has called Argyle Street home for 21 years.
Its founders hope the new facility — likely to be open by January — will spark a new wave of business, artistic and community investments in the historical Asia on Argyle district, which has struggled in recent years.
“The current state of Argyle, you see it when you walk down the block. There’s tons of closures, there’s vacant buildings,” said Hac Tran, co-founder of Haibayo. “There needs to be collaboration between different institutional stakeholders in terms of the future of Argyle. On a hyperlocal level, how can we as creative entrepreneurs add value?”
Qideas will close Oct. 1 for the redevelopment project, which is being partially funded by a city grant. All merchandise in the store is half off until then.
Haibayo was founded by Tran and entrepreneur Jennifer Pham in 2019 and began with food and art pop-up events in and around Argyle Street.
The aim was to create more reasons for people to visit Argyle and as a way to foster community and collaboration among the area’s entrepreneurs and creatives. Tran is communications manager at Uptown United, the local development corporation, and Pham owns Mini Tx Pharmacy, 1069 W. Argyle St.
Haibayo — which is a play on the Vietnamese phrasing for “one, two, three, cheers” — pivoted during the pandemic to helping Argyle Street’s restaurants and businesses survive the downturn in business. It’s events have been successful, but the organization knew it could be more impactful if it had a permanent location in the corridor.
“If we wanted to really make a catalytic impact in the community, we needed to have a storefront,” Tran said.
That’s where Qideas and owner Ellen Duong came in.
Qideas was opened in 2002 by Duong’s parents. The shop’s lease was up towards the end of the pandemic, after what was a brutal time for small businesses.
Duong wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with the store. The more she thought about it, the more she thought the space could be even better utilized as a hybrid retail and community center.
She began talking to Tran and Pham — all three second-generation Asian Americans — about how to best utilize the storefront.
“I felt like there was a lot of life left [for Qideas], but how do we more efficiently utilize the space?” Duong said. “Then I came up with this idea of … just creating a love letter to Argyle for us second generation Asian Americans. I wanted to be able to create a space that can inspire people to see more for themselves and see what is it like to have your identity here.”
Duong, Pham and Tran decided to join forces and open a hybrid Qideas retail shop and Haibayo community space, hoping to provide a spark for Argyle Street’s future.
Qideas currently uses a portion of 1134 W. Argyle. The plan is to utilize the full space and redesign Qideas to allow for the inclusion of Haibayo.
The nonprofit will take over a rear portion of the storefront, adding a multi-purpose community space and the bar/cafe. The multi-purpose space will hold workshops on topics like financial literacy and programs for both kids and seniors.
The bar/cafe area will serve a range of teas and will have a robust non-alcoholic menu as well as other tavern and coffee shop staples, Pham said. It will also host live music and other programs for the community.
Qideas will get a streamlined makeover, with help from design company Future Firm. It will still sell staples of the existing business, including plants and Buddhist artifacts, Duong said. The store will add more art from local makers, she said.
There will also be business incubator space, allowing the next generation of Argyle Street entrepreneurs to test out and launch products or businesses. The hope is those businesses will then branch out into their own spaces in the Argyle area, helping the corridor thrive well into the future.
“It’s meant to be a creative space, a supportive space,” Pham said. “A place where you can learn about your culture, our culture and and create new ways of coming together in community.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: