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A Look At A South Carolinian Vintage Van Turned Plant Shop

BJ Stadelman’s curls lay relaxed at his shoulders atop his loosely fitting white t-shirt. The bright cotton contrasts with the exposed brick wall sitting behind him in our FaceTime video frame; a monstera deliciosa’s sprawling leaf and decadent fenestrations happily rest on the red wall of the downtown Charleston apartment with vaulted ceilings. Atop BJ’s head: a ball cap with a black and white badge reading “Hægur Plant Shop” around the outline of a leaf. 

The owner of Hægur (pronounced high-gur), a South Carolina plant shop, has a friendly disposition and calming demeanor. He emanates an aura of innovation, acceptance, and creativity. 

Hægur isn’t just any plant store, though. Founded in 2017, the Charleston-based greenery boutique started in the back of a Cushman Truckster, a small three-wheeled golf-cart-like vehicle with a small flatbed. Later that same year, Stadelman upped his game, moving from the tricycle flatbed to a 1970 P2500 Value Van. “It looks like a bread truck,” says BJ jokingly. Nonetheless, the bread truck lends itself well to the minimalist aesthetic many plant-goers embrace in the vintage market of Charleston. 

“I spent the winter converting that,” recalls Stadelman, “by Valentine’s Day, I had opened the second truck, so I guess I had a mini-fleet of sorts of mobile plant shops.” 

Moving the once-pet-project in the back of the Cushman Truckster into a larger box van expanded the markets BJ and his store could access, too. “I needed access to expanding my market and [selling in] different neighborhoods and just getting more attention,” BJ tells Garden and Health. 

Hægur quickly took off and it became clear a non-wheeled store was necessary, too. The shop now boasts a more traditional brick and mortar location as well as its now-iconic plant nursery on wheels. “Summer is hot, so I was looking for a place to pop up” and eventually that place ended up becoming permanent. 

‘Hægur’ is Icelandic for what generally translates to “slow” or “living with thought, intent, and purpose,” a fitting name for a store that reminds patrons to enjoy the smaller beauties the Earth has gifted us. Stadelman is a believer in energies, and in his experience, nurturing plants has aided in fostering those energies. 

The plant store on wheels’ owner has not always been a green-thumbed extraordinaire, though. Before founding Hægur, BJ was working a job that didn’t bring him the joy in life he was looking for. On his days off (usually Thursdays), he would wander to plant nurseries in the area to help brighten his day. “The girls at the greenhouse always were excited to see me because they knew it was one day until the weekend,” BJ says with a nostalgic smile and slight chuckle, “they actually coined it my ‘Therapy Thursday.’” 

According to Stadelman, plants changed the trajectory of his life. “It got to the point where I recognized that I was caring for something and facilitating something in my own home which then bled over into different aspects of my life, which was the shift I needed.” 

Today, Hægur sits on King Street in Charleston’s northern edge of the business district. BJ says it’s all about creating a calming, welcoming environment that pleases the senses. Despite being a small business with obvious business goals, Stadelman says it’s truly about fostering calm.  “I let [patrons] experience the shop and if they have any questions I let them know that I’m there. It’s fun to coach people on plants, introducing them to the world. It’s almost like… someone seeing the city for the first time: your eyes are open to it.”

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