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Meet the whimsical shop on Ellicott City’s Main Street: Gott Efni, a spot for flowers and gifts

Anna Kim, owner of Gott Efni flower and gift shop in Ellicott City, tends to plants inside her shop on Main Street.
Anna Kim, owner of Gott Efni flower and gift shop in Ellicott City, tends to plants inside her shop on Main Street. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Walk into the Gott Efni shop tucked into a tiny stone building on Main Street, and you just might expect to see fairies.

There’s a magical air about the 200-square-foot gift, flower and wedding store that Anna Kim opened just over a year ago.

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Branches of Japanese bridal spirea dangle from a netting-covered ceiling next to a miniature chandelier. The walls are papered with sheet music. Cinder block bookshelves hold hard-bound editions of such beloved novels as Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Lewis Carroll’s ”Alice in Wonderland.”

There are an antique fan, a kaleidoscope and a 1940s-era radio. The lid of a phonograph player is propped open, and Louis Armstrong growls soulfully in the background.

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But mostly, there are plants: exquisite strings of pearls, the mysterious Tillandsia that seem to thrive on air, a hanging spider pant surrounded by a jubilant circle of miniature offspring. A small prayer plant nestles inside a moss ball placed on a piece of driftwood.

Kim gets a new delivery each Thursday. Plants start at $7.50 and range to about $65. Gott Efni’s decor is for sale, too.

”I love old vintage style,” said the Korean-born Kim, who moved to the U.S. in the mid-1990s to get married.

“I love things with texture. I love earth tones and muted colors. That style makes me feel comfortable.”

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Like the quote from the French artist Claude Monet hanging from the rafters: “I must have flowers always, and always,” Kim has been surrounded by growing things as long as she can remember.

As a high school student, she worked in a flower shop in South Korea. After emigrating, she studied floral design at Anne Arundel Community College.

For more than two decades, she worked as a freelance wedding designer, handling flower arrangements and décor. But always, she yearned to open her own business. Kim got her chance early in 2020 when the Crystal Underground jewelry shop relocated to a larger space down the street.

A friend suggested the store’s name; Kim said “gott efni” is an Icelandic phrase meaning “good stuff.”

”People crave greenery,” Kim said. ”Plants make good air, and the color green is relaxing. Plants are kind of like pets.”

The shop’s door is open to the street, attracting customers who glimpse something intriguing, step inside and stop to gape.

“Wow,” said Alison McMullen, 33, of Baltimore. “I never knew this place was here. It’s so pretty and peaceful. I love plants and you have a really unique selection. It’s not like walking into Walmart.”

Kim has big plans for her tiny shop; a close friend hopes to open a restaurant on Main Street based on the wildly popular Plant Cafe vegan eatery in Seoul, South Korea. Kim would supply the restaurant with greenery, which, like the food, would be for sale.

Marghi Barnes, who owns the Divine Planet studio next door, thinks that Kim is as much of a draw as her merchandise.

“Only two people can fit inside her store at a time,” Barnes said, “but Anna has a very warm and welcoming spirit. On some days, there’s a line out front, and she doesn’t even serve lunch.”

Gott Efni, 8052 Main St., Ellicott City, is open 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. For details, go to gottefni.com.

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