America’s small businesses aren’t only the backbone of our economy, they’re also the fingerprints of our local communities. Across the nation, locally-owned businesses act as small vistas into the unique cities and towns they support, giving visitors an insight into the locales that are seldom captured by tourist pamphlets or Yelp reviews.
Within the small business community, an even smaller niche has bloomed over the past years: houseplant stores. These artistic enclaves are not only relaxing and aesthetically pleasing oases, but shopping at them is also an outstanding way to support a retail store that usually holds a line of locally-crafted goods, allowing you to support the team behind the scenes too. We’ve delved into this infrequently featured business segment and compiled a few of our favorites across the U.S.
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
About: In the quaint, waterside town of St. Petersburg, Florida, an eclectic shop brimming with lively greenery pushes for a goal: not just selling products, but enriching their patrons’ lives with them.
Wild Roots is a woman-owned small business, founded in 2017 by native Floridian Amanda Hill. While Florida’s Gulf Coast is far from barren, Hill noticed a missing market in the otherwise lusciously outfitted terrain: a houseplant nursery. Despite the success of the store, Amanda says she never planned on opening a plant shop.
Hill proclaims one of the store’s primary purposes is to remind customers to bolster their individuality. “‘Stay wild’ is an expression you’ll come across a lot around here.” She’s not joking. On the otherwise unassuming facade of the store, which actually is a dual-bay garage turned storefront, a vivacious mural breaks up the muted tones of the avenue’s buildings. “Stay Wild” reads in bright green block letters, outlined with crisp white piping against the dark background. Palm leaf outlines, stems, and other happenstance blooms sit behind the mantra’s text.
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
About: In the unlikely location of Alaska’s most populous city sits a striking and wide-set greenhouse; a sharply pitched glass roof welcomes cascading rays of short-lived sunshine into the impressively outfitted houseplant oasis.
The summer season in Alaska is short and sweet, clocking in at just around four weeks. During those four weeks though, there are bright blue skies nearly every day, with daytime highs of 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and 19 hours of sunshine. That is contrasted with the brutal winters that Mother Nature delivers to Alaska – meaning plant shops have to be flexible in their product offerings.
For this woman-owned Alaskan nursery, that reality translates to capitalizing on Alaskans’ desires for beautiful outdoor landscapes in the summer and then staying steady on indoor plants for the remainder of the year.
The Green Connection is part of a larger business narrative: a burgeoning small business scene that has taken the 49th State by storm. The most recent statistics available denote small businesses as employing 53 percent of the private workforce. In other words, these locally-owned shops are the backbone of the Alaskan job market, with the retail industry ranking among the top three providers of jobs and small business types.
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
About: Utah’s capital city sits in the valley of the Wasatch Range, a picturesque panorama of snow-capped peaks stretching from the Idaho border into Central Utah.
In the middle of the mountainside metropolis sits Thyme and Place, Salt Lake’s woman-owned, premier location for houseplants and earth-inspired homewares. The shop’s exterior is modern but unassuming. Set back from the cleanly swept sidewalk, industrial-inspired planters line the front of the property.
Thyme and Place has a mission beyond just getting plants to people’s homes, too: they want to build a community around a common interest. They even give their own space to do so inside the store so during normal times patrons can sit amongst other plant lovers while they repot and prune their new green friends.
Location: Huntington, WV + Gallipolis, OH
About: The Potted Edge, a locally owned houseplant shop run by two outstanding businesswomen, functions off of a common premise: plants improve our lives. In addition to being sustainable, eco-friendly decor, plants have been shown to decrease stress levels in our day-to-day life and increase productivity. The same report has shown general health malaise improved as the density of plants increased.
Originally founded in Gallipolis, Ohio, The Potted Edge is an ideal location for houseplant hunters looking to bring nature into their home. In 2019, the shop expanded to a second location about 40 miles southwest in Huntington, West Virginia.
In Huntington, The Potted Edge is located inside a well-known, historic building called The Progress Building. This historic space stands as an antique beauty, dating back over one hundred years. After sitting vacant, the red-brick building was bought and renovated by a local company that refurbished the space in 2019.