On April 13, Blooms Greenhouse Grower Outlet is prepared to welcome spring time and reopen for a new season of business! This will be the fifth spring that the Kingsbury-based greenhouse has offered retail options to the community. Rich Christakes, Co-Owner of Kingsbury Acres Greenhouse, believes that Blooms is filling a void within the community: supplying the best quality for the best price.
Although this April will mark five years of retail sales, Blooms Greenhouse was founded in 2008 after the Christakes family bought the retiring Angelo Bernacchi family business. That’s where Rich’s father, Bill, got his start.
“I grew up in the business. I started out when I was 14 years old. I was a good worker, so they eventually said, ‘We’re going to open a store and we want you to be part of it.’ Over the years, I bought them out, these guys came on, and here we are,” Bill said.
If we’re really talking about history, Bloom’s roots started in 1907, when the Angelo Bernacchi family came to La Porte. “They started out as vegetable cart pushers, and then evolved into buying land and producing vegetables to sell,” Bill said. “Somewhere along the line – probably in the 1940s – they started growing flowers.”
Bill said it was a natural progression for the Christakes family to purchase the Bernacchi business when they were ready to retire it generations later. Bernacchi had been a major supplier for Alsip.
“With that came Tony, our grower. He was taught from the old school. Being quality oriented, we don’t take any short cuts. Whatever he needs to do to produce a good quality product – we do it,” Bill said.
Eventually they decided to open Blooms to the public.
“We saw there was a demand after Bernacchi closed, and we wanted to supply a grower outlet that offered high quality products at more affordable prices in the community,” Rich Christakes said.
Over the years, Blooms Greenhouse Grower Outlet has grown to house nearly 200,000 square feet of production area, leaving 12,000 square feet open to the public for retail. Customers can choose from a wide selection of quality annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, hanging baskets, and planters, all at direct-to-consumer pricing.
The excitement of reopening for spring grows deep within the community, but also with employees at Blooms.
“Spring opening day is a time we really look forward to. For those of us who have been with the business for a long time, it feels as though we are professional baseball players jumping into a new season. We work really hard over the winter to prepare for spring and now it’s time to have at it,” Rich said.
Blooms is well-known for their hanging baskets. The baskets are grown two weeks longer than the recommended crop time, making for a very full displays. They are hand-pruned by Blooms employees as they continue to prosper.
“Our baskets are ridiculously beautiful. A lot of times our customers can’t even believe they’re real. With Mother’s Day coming up, our baskets will be flying out of the store,” Rich said.
To celebrate their milestone anniversary, Blooms will host a Customer Appreciation Day on June 1st. The event will off a first-ever, rare opportunity to tour the back-of-house operations in true “How It’s Made” style.
“We are humbled for our fifth year anniversary. The community has supported us enough to continue to be open and reach this milestone,” Rich said. “The tours will allow our customers a behind-the-scenes look at the growing process and the scale of our growing grounds. This experience is a cool way to show our appreciation and get the community more involved in what we do.”
The exclusive event also will include gift card giveaways and other fun activities, and space will be limited. Tickets for the customer-appreciation event and greenhouse tours are $10 and must be purchased in advance at https://bloomsgreenhouse.com/.
Also listed on Bloom’s website is a wide selection of plants available for purchase right at your fingertips. Blooms prides themselves on giving customers this luxury, and ships their high-quality plants anywhere in the lower 48 states.
Looking forward, Blooms Greenhouse Grower Outlet hopes to move at a steady pace while continuing to offer more.
“We want Blooms to feel like a go-to gathering and meeting place for the community while we continue to expand our retail area and product offering for our customers. We already grow over a hundred varieties of vegetables and herbs. We want to continue to provide these products for the community in order to support home gardening practices,” Rich said.
Taking a trip to Blooms is well worth the drive for out-of-towners. In fact, Rich recalls many instances when his customers planned full day-trips to the outlet well in advance.
“People drive from well over an hour away all the way from South Bend, Michigan, and more. It’s more than traveling far for a good price, it’s traveling for the experience that we offer to our customers,” he said.
With a dedicated and hardworking staff, a commitment to expanding product offerings, and a renewed direction in the gardening industry, Blooms Greenhouse Grower Outlet looks forward to more years of growth ahead.