The interior of Brilliant Coffee Company on West Sixth Street. Photo by Sophie Bird

Several new businesses were preparing to open in Bloomington when the statewide COVID-19 lockdown began in March. Instead of becoming discouraged, these small-business owners persevered and are now open to serve the public. As more new businesses join their ranks, Bloom will continue to update this post.


One night in December 2019, Talia Halliday dreamt that she owned a plant store named oak. As the owner of Gather on the downtown Square, Halliday has experience running a business, so she decided to make “oak.” a reality.

Inspired by her own love of houseplants and their popularity at Gather, Halliday drew up the plans for a store that would offer not only the living plants, but also plant-related décor, art, jewelry, and gifts.

The opening date for oak. had already been scheduled when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“It’s been truly unlike any experience I’ve ever had in my life,” Halliday says. “We were set to open on March 24, which was a week after we shut down our other store [Gather] because of COVID.”

Despite the pandemic and some setbacks acquiring plants to sell—“Growers and nurseries are busier than they ever have been!”—Halliday says oak. has had a successful first few months.

“People were interested in houseplants pre-pandemic, but the pandemic has just made them more so,” she explains. “They want to take care of something. Watch something grow. Have something beautiful. Be a part of life. And we can provide that for them.”

Halliday credits part of the shop’s success to its online presence.

“Because we had the extra two months to figure things out, we were able to get our online store functional much quicker than getting [Gather] online,” she says.

She also focused on growing oak.’s social media following—amassing more than 1,870 followers across Facebook and Instagram during the statewide COVID-19 lockdown.

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Brilliant Coffee Company

Located in the Alley Works building on West Sixth Street, Brilliant Coffee Company serves coffee drinks and artisan gelato. Ten flavors of gelato (all are gluten free) and seven flavors of sorbetto (dairy- and gluten-free) are on rotation to accompany classic beverages like cappuccinos and café mochas.

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Healthy Hoosiers

Bloomington’s newest smoothie bar, Healthy Hoosiers, opened on June 4 serving fruit and specialty smoothies, colorful “energy bomb” drinks, and blended coffee beverages with low-sugar and fat-burning options.

Healthy Hoosiers is located at 211 S. Grant St. Learn more at

Board & Brush Creative Studio

Board & Brush Bloomington, located at 522 N. Morton St., offers workshops where participants decorate wooden boards with quotes and pictures to be used as wall décor.

The guided workshops provide an opportunity for participants to follow along with an expert and create the best possible finished product. Wine is available for purchase.

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