Grasshoppers symbolize wisdom, prosperity and leaps of faith, so naming their brand new Bucktown boutique after one of these bright green insects seemed ideal for husband-and-wife duo Michael Roberts and Jean Taylor. But why tack on 510 at the end of the name? “Color is measured on a wavelength in units called nanometers. 510 represents the color green, ” reads a sign on the boutique wall. It’s a nod to the bright shade of their namesake insect, of course. But 510 also subtly emphasizes that, top to bottom, Grasshopper 510 is a “green” boutique, from the recycled seltzer-bottle lights to the eco-friendly paint on the walls to the recycled sea-glass necklaces and all-natural bath products lining the shelves.
For years, Roberts and Taylor dreamed of joining the entrepreneurial world, wanting to start a business that had an environmental focus. They tossed around several ideas—a moving company and a funeral home among them—but the idea of an eco-friendly boutique seemed the perfect fit. After a year of looking for space, they finally set up shop in the space newly abandoned by lingerie boutique Raizy, and opened their doors on May 14. And if the space still looks a little Raizy-ish, that’s by design. “We tried to reuse as much of Raizy’s old equipment as possible,” Taylor says.
Lining the eco-friendly shelves of Grasshopper 510 are jewelry, house wares, clothing, paper products, accessories and children’s products that are made from organic, sustainable and/or repurposed materials. “We want you to come in and splurge on yourself, of course, but to think of us when you have a gift to buy,” Taylor says. “So we try to have something for everyone.” For the jewelry lover, recycled gold, silver and sea-glass pieces (and for the true trendsetter, a recycled calling-card necklace). For the Chicago fanatic, throw pillows emblazoned with the Sears Tower or Marina Towers, created from found fabrics. For the t-shirt-and-jeans guy or gal, a hundred percent organic cotton graphic tees from Interwoven designs (which donates a shirt to homeless organization Thresholds for every t-shirt sold). Naturally, Grasshopper 510 makes it easy to gift-give Mother Nature style, with a corner of the store devoted to gorgeous, printed wrapping paper created from post-consumer waste paper. (Molly Each)
Grasshopper 510 is located at 1944 North Damen, (773)292-0510, grasshopper510.com.