Botany Houseplant Shop offers that touch of spring
Sick of the snow? Need a little green and bright refresh? That’s what Leslie Buettner, owner of Botany Houseplant Shop in Carbondale, is hoping as well.
Tucked into one of Carbondale’s strip malls is a lush and vibrant offering. More than 50 varieties of succulents, dozens of houseplants, hanging baskets, hundreds of pots and terrariums, a relaxation and reading nook and a class workshop corner illuminate the space.
Nine months ago, during the dog days of August, Chicago-born Buettner decided to open an indoor plant store.
There were a few hanging baskets out front and some subdued signage.
This came as a surprise to tourists, who would stroll in and ask Buettner how she turned a profit on indoor plants in a mountain town.
“I created this store for the locals. Even though I’m a Chicago girl, my family has been in the valley since the 1970s,” said Buettner.
It was her love of gardening in Portland that planted the seed.
“Portland was a very inspirational place to get turned on by plants. I was there for 14 years. There, you can garden outside, year-round, with all that moisture and humidity,” she said.
Seeds in the valley
Upon arrival in the valley in 2017, Buettner went to work for a landscape company. But a seed had been planted and sprouted in 2022. She left the company and opened her one-woman plant show in the old Independence Run & Hike space in Carbondale.
Her partner, Aaron Brown, helped Buettner build out the 1,700-square-foot space and will still occasionally lend a hand at Botany a couple days a week. A woodworker by trade, his plant stands will be available for sale in the near future.
“I wanted to create something that’s not high-end. Just because we are near Aspen doesn’t mean we can’t be reasonable. We are in the midvalley with working-class residents. We are a store for everyone,” said Buettner. “We know our people. We are here for the birthdays and celebrations and are not as much exposed to the transient multi-homeowners.”
Aside from the floral department at City Market and a handful of options at Flowers on Main Street in Carbondale, she’s the only garden in town. Throughout the valley, locals can visit Lowes in Glenwood Springs or Eagle Crest Nursery in El Jebel.
That wasn’t enough for the demand.
Business ebbed and flowed throughout the first nine months of operations, with December the most profitable for Botany Houseplants.
“From mid-August to Dec. 31, I sold 1,000 plants,” said Buettner. “I went through 400 paperwhite bulbs in 10 days this winter and I had to order more.”
She added, “I don’t think weather plays into it too much, we have just as many customers on snowy and nasty days as on a sunny day.”
“I love it. It’s such a nice space with beautiful plants that are well loved for. Plus, Leslie is supper nice and knowledgeable about plants and super helpful,” said repeat local customer, Boden Hart.
Locals have been seeking out Botany for a plethora of reasons. Buettner will replant and give new life to dying houseplants that ail customers.
“People bring in plants from home and are not confident in how to replant. They wonder if they are using the correct soil and fertilizer. I’m here to troubleshoot and diagnosis problems,” said Buettner.
“We also do custom soils individualized for specific customer home environments and plant needs,” she said.
Group events and classes started to fill the schedule and repeat customers were becoming more plentiful.
Buettner also completed onsite consultations for customers about plant choice and placement for best success, which has also been a beneficial experience, she said.
What’s blooming this month?
In preparation for this week’s Easter and Passover celebrations, Buettner is busy with custom-mixed plantings. It’s one of her favorite parts of the gig.
“People are gearing up their greenhouses. And citrus, so many people want citrus right now,” said Buettner. “I will be getting larger plants in and have a space dedicated to summer plants that like the hotter and drier weather.”
Buettner is well stocked on moisture meters, natural fertilizers and more enhancements for the houseplant. She will be staying away from selling edible plants besides citrus and a handful of tomatoes and peppers her friends have been growing and selecting for the store.
She’s also in conversation with local potters to sell their planters. There will also be the local house plant swap this summer.
“I want to be about customer service. I want to engage with everyone, we’re never too big or busy, that’s what local retail is about,” said Buettner.
Sowing more seeds
There still seems to be a couple of stubborn roots to Buettner’s success.
“I think it can be a challenge because people in Carbondale don’t know I am here,” she said. “Maybe locals are in disbelief that a specialty store can also be long-lasting. Some people see it from the visitor’s side. However, most are supportive and have wonderful things to say.”
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