Tucked in a corner at State and Third streets, in between a law office and a skincare center, sits a cozy space full of plants.
“Not a lot of people know about me,” said Raymundo Maldonado, owner of Chinelo Design, which calls itself a “plant and pots store.”
Maldonado has been in Los Altos for a year and a half. This is his second attempt at owning a store. His first business was a flower shop, but that dream was curtailed due to the 2008 recession. After returning to work in sales but then growing tired of it, Maldonado decided to shoot his shot again.
Of course, not even a year into starting Chinelo Design, the pandemic hit.
Maldonado said his shop doesn’t get much foot traffic, but sometimes people stop by after grabbing food downtown. He tries to use Instagram to promote pictures of his plants.
Born and raised in Mexico, Maldonado moved to the Bay Area as a teenager. He had always been attracted to nature, recalling that his grandmother had a passion for plants that she passed on to him.
“Sometimes, when we live here in the Bay Area, we’re just disconnected with ourselves and what nature has to offer,” he said.
Maldonado’s best-selling plants include orchids and snake plants. Most of them are locally sourced from the Bay Area. He has definitely seen an uptick in customers who have come in wanting to buy plants to decorate their homes because they are inside more during the pandemic.
Maldonado’s husband, Kevin, works right next to him as owner of A Hair Lounge. During the pandemic, both of their incomes have been slashed. But Maldonado said while business might be struggling, he is still blessed to be in Los Altos.
“I can’t complain,” he said. “Yes, we are going through a hard time, but at the same time, I’m being surrounded by a greenhouse. It looks like a green forest. It gives you peace of mind. It brings you joy.”
Chinelo Design is located at 220 State St. Suite 7. For more information, visit chinelodesign.com.