we like it wild: the making of a shop



Since so many of our posts here on design*sponge share with you the everyday-ness of our flower business lives, we thought it only fair to finally share with all of our readers a new big part of our lives in the past few months. You may have noticed a few months ago we started talking about “the shop” in our posts here. After a soft opening in February, we just recently celebrated the “official” grand opening of our brick-and-mortar shop: Prairie Collective.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Studio Choo’s post + more images of the new shop after the jump!


Although technically Studio Choo consists of two people (Jill and Alethea) everyone knows everything is a bit easier with a little help from our friends, so we took this approach when we first started thinking seriously about opening a store at the end of 2009. As circumstances would have it, we had a few amazingly creative and motivated friends that had the same idea at the same time, and Prairie Collective was born. Running three businesses (Studio Choo, Magpie & Rye, and the Cloak & Cabinet Society make up our collective) under one roof has endless advantages, both financially, creatively, and emotionally.


When we found the space it needed serious help. It was basically a big white box with a teeny sink and an awesome window. We called in all of our favors from family, friends, and friends-of-friends (and with the help of the guys from shameless design and lots of our own elbow grease) and managed to transform the box into a barn. Lia’s dad, Tom, provided us with some great salvaged pieces including all the amazing lumber that acts as our rafters as well as the large cast-off cast-iron sink, a necessity if you’re working with flowers. The place was covered in dust for a month as we stripped a hundred years’ worth of paint from our window, added drywall and molding, and replaced old fluorescent lighting. Trips to the local salvage yard Urban Ore yielded our lovely counter and grand old double-sided display unit.



The finishing touches included a big red screen door by our artist friend Michael Christiansen (we had to keep out the pesky flies), and our hand-painted signs by Derek at Golden West Sign Arts. Our pride and joy is the recycled windowpane* gilded gold glass sign he made us using a very complicated leafing technique. It casts a golden reflection on the sidewalk in the afternoon.

*As most shop owners know (and we quickly discovered) large glass windows are graffiti magnets. The hanging windowpane let us have the fancy lettering we wanted without having to replace it if the window was damaged with scratches or etching.


Each business has an area of expertise, ours being flowers, naturally, but we don’t pigeonhole ourselves. In addition to running a flower shop out of our little storefront on Divisadero Street, Studio Choo also sells artwork from Jill’s “side project” small stump, Saipua soap, vintage blankets, interesting vases, Swedish clogs, and a variety of other things. Basically if it makes us happy, we want to bring it to the neighborhood and have it in our store. And that’s been one of the best things so far about running a brick-and-mortar shop: the neighborhood. We’ve found an amazing community in our little Lower Haight hood and have had nothing but positive feedback. We look forward to visits from neighbors and regulars, and Lil’ Boy looks forward to visits from his new bestest friend, Buddy.


As for the rest of our collective partners, Magpie & Rye is run by our amazing friend, Annabelle. In addition to selling home goods, she also curates an inspiring collection of jewelry and keeps our case well stocked with pieces that make our customers drool. She also just launched her online shop so if you can’t visit the collective you can still check out her lovely selection. The Cloak & Cabinet Society is run by Lia who, when not working as a full-time librarian and helping us with we like it wild, finds time to bring in vintage curios and odd scientific accessories. The combination of all our styles may seem like strange bedfellows on paper, but somehow all of our unique tastes and sensibilities come together in the store and just mesh. Most people can’t tell that we have three businesses sharing a space. Bernie and Lil’ Boy fit in too.


On the flower side, we’ve been busier than ever. Now we have a space that people can come and meet us to talk about flowers for weddings and events, and it’s great to get to do flowers for walk-ins, too. There’s nothing cuter than a gal popping in the store for help with a bouquet for a dinner party, or a dad and son dropping buy for an arrangement for mom “just because.” This new location has given us some great exposure in the press and a chance to do fun things like teach flower classes (our first class on dahlias is next week!) and have art openings. We like it wild, yes, and we like it ridiculously busy, apparently.



So there it is. Now that you know about Prairie Collective “officially” you must come and visit us. Consider this an open invitation to stop by and say hi. Be sure to let us know you’re a d*s reader because we are delighted and grateful that there are so many people out there in internet-land that like what we’re doing. Come by anytime Wednesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm, or Sunday, 12pm to 4pm and we’ll show you around.

Prairie Collective
262 Divisadero Street (between Haight and Page)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 701-8701
Weds-Sat, 11-6
Sun, 12-4
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays (flower deliveries excepted)

  1. wow beautiful …..next time i go to the SF flower market i may have to pop in to say hello.

    all the best of luck to you!

  2. Tawney says:

    Wow, I would love to visit San Francisco just to come to your shop!

  3. Aubrey says:

    AH! This is awesome. I love the shop, name, and look! It reminds me of the unique shops in my favorite spots in Seoul.

  4. kelsey louise says:

    this is absolutely my dreams coming true! I am in the process of renovating a building for my small boutique (in kentucky) and literally everything that i’m trying to do is what you have done. i’m completely mesmerized. i even have the moss covered stumps sitting at my home waiting for the rest of the work to be completed. my space is not so nice–low ceilings, crappy tile floor, etc.–but i am still going to do my best. my heart is really skipping beats because i saw in photos what i’ve been seeing in my head for so long. congratulations and it’s really, truly, the most cozy and lovely place i could ever imagine.

  5. Tess says:

    I love seeing the before photos! Your shop is so perfectly executed & seemingly effortless that it’s especially fun to see the beat-up white box you started with.

  6. Teles says:

    Fantastic. A lovely shop. I realy want to visit you some day…good lucky and many hugs from Brazil.

  7. Kaci says:

    You’ve created a beautiful space. Congratulations!

  8. Alejandra says:

    Que buen trabajo, buen lugar, linda tienda

  9. rachel says:

    what a great idea to join forces…humm…that gives me some ideas! beautiful transformation of space.

  10. ANNA says:

    so cool to see those step-by-step images, it gives a better idea of what has happend…so beautyful.

  11. Rachel says:

    Breathtaking! Your hard work TOTALLY paid off!

  12. Claire says:

    Really fantastic transformation and use of a small space. Congratulations and best of luck!!

  13. Claire says:

    Wow. Absolutely beautiful. You guys did an amazing job & all the passion & attention to detail really shows!

  14. Bekka says:

    Wow! I love this post, I would love to see more start to finish shop posts, brilliant idea. Beautiful shop and beautiful post G!

  15. B'sue says:

    You guys have done what I’m anticipating….after 22 years in mail order, going into a brick and mortar, so I can teach and sell finished work (jewelry and assemblage). Viewing the process through your eyes was amazing….and so helpful! Thanks for the adventure chronicle! Best wishes in your future endeavors!

  16. Rosacea says:

    That really is an amazing change from a simple white box… love all the plants and flowers as well.

  17. This place is so quaint I could barf (and I really, really want to go there and buy pretty things).

  18. Annie says:

    how gorgeous – what a lovely lovely space!

  19. I was just there the other day, and it is as gorgeous in real life as in the photos! The flowers are tucked into every little corner and the jewelry is displayed in beautiful wooden and glass cases. Love it ladies!

  20. Your store is lovely! What an amazing transformation. Thanks for showing us the before and during photos. Congratulations on your glorious new enterprise. Wishing you all tremendous success!

  21. Eva says:

    love it all. congratulations!

  22. Debbie says:

    Wow, I love the concept of this new shop…..several businesses with one business front. Great ideas…..I can’t wait to visit your shop, since I live in Half Moon Bay it shouldn’t be a very long journey.

  23. Debbie says:

    Opps I forgot one thing. I would like to submit some photos for before and after. What email address should I send the photos to?

    1. grace says:

      debbie

      you can send submissions to SUBMISSIONS AT DESIGNSPONGE DOT COM

      grace

  24. kerrouche says:

    trés bonne pésentation , fantastique

    thank you

  25. Sarah says:

    My best friend and I just recently purchased a flower shop.. we love it! I’m so glad to find this post.. truely inspiring!. I’ve been reading designsponge for a few years but had no idea this is also what you were up to. How do you have the time??? Love it all!

  26. Lyd Lee says:

    I LOVE your shop! Thank you for sharing your
    progress.

  27. Louise says:

    Wow !What a beautiful job !

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