The food and shopping component of Chophouse Row, the Melrose Market cousin taking shape on 11th Ave just off E Pike, will be known for its small parts combing together for a greater whole. One shopping experience planned to be niched into the Row’s retail plaza and pedestrian alley connecting through the block between 11th and 12th is already beginning to bloom.
“It’s going to be a garden inspired little boutique,” Nisha Kelen tells CHS. “It’s not a nursery.”
Niche Outside is the first non-food and drink tenant to be announced for Liz Dunn’s Chophouse Row project, a mixed-use development that will preserve and transform the old auto row garage where Chophouse Studio once lived into part of a new dining and shopping complex beneath new office space above.
Kelen said she is excited to share a wall with the cheese and farm-to-table shop being planned by Kurt Timmermeister inside Chophouse along the alley being created between 11th and 12th avenues. Like Kurt Farm Shop, Niche Outside will also be teensy tiny — roughly 280 square feet, Kelen tells CHS. Meanwhile, she will also share a wall with Volunteer Park Cafe co-founder Erica Burke who is bringing a new cafe and juice bar to the project.
Like Burke, Kelen said she had talked with Dunn about being part of Melrose Market but the timing didn’t work out with her business projects at the time. Kelen has operated E Union’s Fleurish floral studio for 17 years — she’s been in the business for 30, she says — and was excited to have a second chance to work with Dunn.
“I just love being part of a community,” Kelen said.
Niche Outside will feature items like the best possible garden trowels in the world or denim gardening aprons or excellent patio party lights. Kelen is still working on inventory and is posting many of her finds and ideas on Instagram.
“Our goal is not to have anything you can find on Amazon,” she said. “We’ll have things from local creators and artists from all over the world.”
She’s also well aware that many of her closest customers don’t have much gardening space.
“I want a broad appeal to anybody who loves nature and has a garden — I’m hoping to captivate an urban dweller who has a balcony,” she said.
Kelen said her plans include a online shopping site for items to big to carry in the store like an amazing, apartment balcony-appropriate barbecue grill she found.
Chophouse Row is slated to open this fall — “late” fall is the new modifier we’ve noticed as the construction project continues. It’s part of a trend of complex retail and dining we’ve noted around the Hill. Kelen says Dunn’s version of the complex, at least, is perfect for a new, small venture and that creation in a small space is what Niche Outside is all about.
“The name has multiple meaning — A carved out space. A little niche inside the Chophouse project,” Nisha Kelen said. “My name…” she added with a laugh.
Niche Outside will be located in the Chophouse Row on 11th Ave between Union and Pike. You can follow the shop via Twitter @nicheoutside.