Sophie Bolich

Maranta Plant Shop Will Close

Plant shop's owner calling it quits -- for now -- after two years in Bronzeville.

By - Jun 27th, 2023 12:30 pm
Maranta Plant Shop, 1739 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Photo by Dave Reid.

Maranta Plant Shop, 1739 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Photo by Dave Reid.

After just over two years in business, Maranta, a Milwaukee plant shop, is going dormant on Friday, June 30.

Co-founder Michelle Alfaro broke the news on Monday, acknowledging the need for a mental health break.

“Running Maranta has been a fulfilling journey, one that taught me resilience and the importance of community,” Alfaro said in a statement. “However, burnout has led me to pause, reassess, and prioritize my well-being. This isn’t a permanent closure but a hiatus for rejuvenation.”

Alfaro added, “it’s okay to prioritize mental health and it’s okay to take a break.”

Billed as Milwaukee’s first and only Black and Brown-owned plant shop, Maranta got its start as a pop-up concept in 2020. Alfaro and co-founder Enrique “Mag” Rodriguez later expanded to a brick-and-mortar storefront, 1739 N. Martin L King Jr Dr., in April 2021.

Since its founding, Maranta has grown from a small, community shop to a nationally-recognized business. It has been featured in a national Shopify campaign, highlighted by the New York Times as one of the 52 Places for a Changed World and had collaborations with Nike, the Milwaukee Brewers, Target, Lululemon, ESPN, CASHDROP, The Kimpton, and others, according to a news release.

In addition to the toll on her mental health, Alfaro pointed to inequity and a lack of financial resources as obstacles for minority business owners.

“Despite our successes, our story is also a reflection of the larger issues that Black and Brown business owners face in Milwaukee. The lack of financial resources for entrepreneurs of color in our city is a hurdle that is too often overlooked. As I take this break, it’s my hope that Maranta’s hiatus illuminates this challenge and sparks conversation and action towards more equitable support for small businesses in our community,” Alfaro said.

Online documents show that Maranta has open tax warrants from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the last of which is for $7,433.

Following its closure, the shop will continue to offer plant care tips, updates and advice via its online platforms, including Instagram and Facebook pages and its website.

Maranta was also known for its community outreach and events, often hosting flea markets featuring local artists and makers.

Alfaro’s post hinted at a future resurgence for the shop. “This isn’t goodbye, but a see you later with a different approach and new location,” Alfaro wrote.

Maranta was previously the site of a food trailer, Tostada by Maranta, which operated in partnership with the plant shop for more than a year, serving farm-to-table tostadas and aguas frescas. The mobile operation shut down in November 2022.

The 7,552-square-foot building that houses Maranta is owned by Brian and Kim Petersen. Built in 1890, the property holds four commercial businesses and two residential units.

The Petersens own five additional properties across the city.

Maranta will be open for two more days, Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., offering plants as well as furniture and decor items.

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Categories: Business

One thought on “Maranta Plant Shop Will Close”

  1. Ryan Cotic says:

    Business is definately tough out there but blaming racism for not paying your taxes seems odd.

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