“When you find something you love, you share it with someone else,” says Hannah Bangs, the name and face behind Santa Barbara’s newest plant and crafted goods shop, Idyll Mercantile.
Bangs’s introduction to selling house plants was an accidental yet fateful occurrence. One day as she was in the process of moving, she suddenly found herself needing to find a new home for her many, many plants. (If she had to guess, there were somewhere between 30 and 60.)
What she didn’t know at the time was that this dilemma would one day lead to having her own storefront. The first-time small business owner has now taken root on the 700 block of Chapala Street, where she recently celebrated two months of business and bliss.
When coming up with a name to best suit her store, Bangs knew she wanted to circle back to the word “idyll,” meaning an extremely happy scene or a short poem descriptive of rural life. “It’s kind of an ode to old crafts and homemade goods,” she said. “Idyll felt like it encapsulated the happiness and joy but also the timelessness of handmade things. I want it to be a happy place.”
Having cultivated a space for plants and the work of local craftspeople to shine, Bangs has a very infectious joy when sharing the art she carries and the makers behind them — the majority of which are women and small-business owners themselves.
Idyll Mercantile’s assortment of goods includes works by several area ceramicists, such as Sarah Klapp of Klapp Ceramics, Erica Ales of Ales Ceramics, and Lyndsie Harris of Ceramic Saguaro, all of whom have their own distinct and earthy style. Printmaker Amy Berenbeim captures scenic beauty through her linocuts and has been featured in publications such as National Parks magazine and High Country News. Idyll Mercantile also carries jewelry by Deer Trails Studios and Indigo Garden. Bangs even sells her own artwork.
Like countless others, the self-proclaimed extrovert was hit hard by the pandemic, and she hopes Idyll Mercantile will be a way to help foster connection again through art and helping “plants meet their people.”
Something Bangs finds interesting about the houseplant boom of the past several years and our isolation during the pandemic is that “when you care for a plant, your brain releases oxytocin, which is the chemical responsible for relationships and bonding. So I think people’s obsession with houseplants can be somewhat explained by our deeper desire to form meaningful connections.”
Find your plant at 703 Chapala Street, and follow @Idyll.Mercantile on Instagram.