Sweet Bloom Coffee and tropical houseplants are key ingredients to the warm and welcoming atmosphere that mother and daughter Laurie and Haley Wilhelmsen aimed to make in their new shop on Florida Road, Still Life Coffee & Botanicals.
The Wilhelmsens said they wanted to take their family’s long-held passions for coffee and plants and combine them to create a space that feels accessible to anyone.
“We didn’t want to be another Main Street tourist trap,” Haley said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just a different culture than you get in a shop that’s surrounded by neighbors.”
She said she and her mother wanted to create a space with a sense of community. The shop, which opened this spring in northeast Durango near J. Bo Pizza & Rib Co., already has regulars who stop in nearly every day.
Laurie said people ask her on a near daily basis, “What’s that feeling?” She tells them it’s the humidity, but they say it’s the shop’s vibe; they love the way the atmosphere calms them down.
“That’s a huge compliment,” Laurie said. “Because coffee isn’t unique.”
The shop’s coffees are all made from Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters’ coffee beans, Haley said. The roaster is based in Lakewood.
She said not only do Sweet Bloom’s beans make for delicious coffee, but she values their business practices of working closely with growers and baristas to provide quality seasonal crops.
“They’re an organic direct trades roaster, which means they’re working really closely with their growers season after season to be providing a really consistent crop and one that’s treated really greatly,” she said.
Still Life Coffee & Botanicals offers single-origin coffees that might only be available one month out of the year, Haley said.
“So the way they do coffee is like this really beautiful agricultural offering rather than just a commodity, which is something that’s really special to me,” she said.
Durango has a nice collection of locally roasted coffee, but Haley wanted to highlight seasonality and various farmers, she said.
For the non-coffee drinkers, the shop also hosts an “expansive” tea menu, Haley said.
Still Life Coffee & Botanicals is a women-run and operated organization, Haley said. She and her mother are 50-50 co-owners; they purchase the pastries sold to patrons from a chef who is a young mother and changes her food lineup weekly.
They also sell jewelry made by local women artists; African violets grown by another local woman and plant enthusiast, and ceramics they get from local potters.
“We’re just trying to get stuff that fits within our aesthetic creative vibe (from) the people who are really passionate about what they do, and give them a place to show their work,” Haley said.
The flowers and houseplants that occupy half the shop are for sale. Among them are many tropical varieties, mostly in the Dracaena, Philodendron and various succulent genuses, Laurie said.
“Our prices are low comparatively, but we offer a very wide variety,” Laurie said. “You probably couldn’t find most of this at Home Depot. That’s deliberate. We’re trying to make ourselves separate, and people love our price point.”
The most expensive plant in the shop right now is a cinnamon tree that costs around $200. The least expensive items are $5 plants.
The Wilhelmsens have found that Durango is home to quite the nerdy houseplant community, Haley said. She and her mother weren’t sure what to expect when they decided to sell plants, but in just a matter of days within opening, total strangers were in their shop bonding over succulents.
Laurie said they try to help people with their plant shopping. Customers will describe where in their home they plan to place a certain plant and Laurie will give them direction. She said customer care is important whether it’s about botanicals or coffee.
At some point, perhaps this fall, Laurie and Haley would like to start hosting a variety of workshops that span from African violets to bonsai trees, basic houseplant care, repotting and interior landscaping, Laurie said.
Haley said the shop also has a small-scale floral operation that is still ramping up. So far, she has a couple wedding events scheduled for this summer.