Walking into Granger’s newest plant store, your senses are immediately hit with lush greenery, humidity and fresh air. And that’s exactly Melody Bontrager’s plan.
“People are always wanting to get outside,” she said “So the fact that we can bring that inside and share that with people, on top of the beauty that it brings and the health aspect to it, is just something we really believe in.”
Bontrager, who with her husband Curtis, opened Interior Gardens this September at 15615 Indiana 23 in Granger, inside the new Mirador at 23 development. The plant store, which highlights all things interior growth and design, is a secondary business for the couple’s initial business, Dogwood Hills Tree Farm based in Middlebury.
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“That is all outdoor trees and plants, so this is the interior version,” Melody Bontrager said.
The space is filled with 74 different indoor plant species, ranging from well-known options like succulents, cacti and citrus trees, to the more obscure, like fiddle leaf fig and Alocasia dragon scale. A live moss wall and propagating wall encourage enthusiasts to think outside of the box when it comes to your not-so-typical indoor plant design. But for beginners, plant technicians Victoria Smith and Grace Nichols are able to assist in purchasing and care advice.
“We get a mixture,” Smith said. “From people not even having plants in the home at all to people who have hundreds.”
When working with customers, Smith said she typically asks what kind of light accessibility each person has and, depending on their experience, suggests easy-to- care-for options. Technicians can assist customers in navigating which plants will succeed in their environment, advising which are pet- and kid-friendly to avoid any accidental tragedies. And, in addition to selling the plants themselves, the business is also able to offer installation and care services, providing pruning, watering, fertilizing and more.
“We have an in-home service to help keep things alive for you,” Melody Bontrager said, acknowledging she is somewhat of a plant beginner herself. “And that sounds so ideal to me, because I would buy all of these plants and then they would die.”
Pricing starts at $2 for propagated clippings, and potted plants are as low as $15, which can then range up to a $500 large citrus tree or a $1,500 cactus.
While the retail space entices plant admirers to come in, the owners say the bulk of the business aims to service other businesses like offices, banks and hospitals.
“The storefront, we wanted it to be a place where people would be in awe,” Melody Bontrager said. “But the biggest part of our business is selling to businesses and informing them of the health benefits of having plants in office.”
While many people opt to have plants in their spaces because of their pleasing appeal, she said a not-so-obvious side effect is how plants can affect peoples’ health.
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“There was an experiment done and they introduced one of these fiddle leaf fig into an average-sized room and, after 24 hours, it had taken 87% of the air toxins out of the air,” she said. “I think its something that is happening and people don’t even realize the difference that they make. A lot of people are visually into them, but there’s also the health benefits too and you can tell.”
Interior Gardens is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What’s next? You tell me.
It took a long time for Trader Joe’s to come to town and, now that it’s here, many can’t help but wonder, what’s next? And I want to find out for you.
So send me your hopes, dreams and wishes about what companies or concepts you would like to see come to our area. I’ll reach out to the top 10 most requested businesses (already looking at you, White Castle) to see what’s even logically possible.
Let me know who and where at [email protected]
Contact Mary Shown at 574-235-6244 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @maryshownSBT and @marketbasketSBT.