There’s more to unearth at Stem and Vine, one of downtown Baltimore’s newer businesses, than the green and viney plants hanging in the floor-to-ceiling windows or the intimate, full bar in the back.
The owner wants the plants, adult refreshments and purchasable artwork to serve as starting points for people to connect, educate themselves on owning and maintaining plants, and build community.
“My vision for this space is to see people with influence get together and use it to solve problems,” said Quincy Goldsmith, the owner of Stem and Vine, a plant shop and wine bar.
For three years, Stem and Vine’s grown from an idea to reality in the 300 block of North Charles Street. Goldsmith wants to see the business grow into a hub for collaborations with other businesses to showcase products , workshops, events and a place for “cultivating the art of living well.”
“This is experiential retail. I’m not doing e-commerce. At least not right now. I want people to come here and experience what I put together,” Goldsmith said.
Inside Stem and Vine, plants are organized by their region of origin, including Asia, the Americas, Africa and Australia. Goldsmith believes many of the plants have stories to tell, with some tales tied to colonialism. But he’s adamant about tying the care of plants to their native culture. He believes knowing where a plant is from better informs how to take care of it. Linking plants to their origin is also a way for “Black and brown people to connect with our culture by what we have grown in our homes,” Goldsmith said.
He credits his exposure to various plants to his own roots in different places throughout his life. His father was in the military, which meant plenty of travel. Goldsmith, formerly a metallurgical engineer, has lived with his wife in over 15 countries. From the agaves in New Mexico to the rainforests in Brazil, Goldsmith’s always been interested in what grows where — and the science behind it all.
The name of the business is not only a play on words for the plants and the wine sold inside, but a nod to STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Though Stem and Vine is open for business, it’s still growing. The business is located inside Brown’s Arcade, a building on the National Historic Registry that once was home to shops and office spaces after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. Goldsmith is converting two other areas inside the building where he plans to take down walls to build out a lounge and gallery. He also wants to see a room dedicated to workshops on growing and caring for plants or ceramics classes.
And as inviting as the green velvet chairs look, don’t expect to pull up with a laptop and create a makeshift workspace. Goldsmith wants to foster an unplugged environment where people feel more obliged to talk to others around them. In fact, he wants to incorporate conversation starters on his wine list for people to peruse and pull inspiration from.
Goldsmith intends to work with nonprofits and local businesses, too. The shelves inside Stem and Vine feature local products: eucalyptus shower steamers from Earth Elements Soapworks, painted pots themed after Baltimore high schools and candles from 228 Grant Street Candles Company. There’s also an emphasis on women and BIPOC suppliers, Goldsmith said.
One recent collaboration welcomed visitors from various backgrounds into the shop for the first “Creatives in the Garden” happy hour. Goldsmith’s goal is to host a weekly happy hour, but for now it’s every other week.
Rheagen King, a graphic designer and owner of Denae Creative Co., thought the idea for the shop “was really unique” and believes Goldsmith is being intentional about the communities he’s building. King added that she thinks the elements Stem and Vine is blending pair well with Baltimore, which she deems a very DIY city. Rheagen would like to work with Goldsmith to design and roll out information cards to pair with the plants in the store to explain where they’re from and how to care for them.
Ebony Renee doesn’t drink alcohol, but she loves the concept of Stem and Vine, its vibe and the kind bartender she jokes serves the best water. She is into exotic plants on the rarer side, like her recent purchase of a monstera Thai constellation, and she considers them her “babies.” She loves Goldsmith’s store because “he’s more into accessible, beginner-friendly plants.” She’s looking forward to exploring opportunities to teach or participate in classes about the plants at the business.
For now, Goldsmith can hardly wait to get final renovations done and expand. Stem and Vine is planning to host sip-and-paints, flower arrangement classes and tastings of local wine and spirits, including Los Hermanos Tequila. The ideas are still blooming.
“The end goal is to make the city better, to get more positive press out there and to get people out enjoying themselves. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Goldsmith said.