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How This Retailer Packs a Greenhouse, Gift Shop, and Manufacturing Studio into One Storefront

The little greenhouse packs a lot into a small space in its Greensboro, NC storefront. Run by husband and wife duo Edgar and Suzanne Cabrera, the space is home to dozens of plants, the couple’s design studio circa 2009 – An open sketchbook — and the home and garden store of the same name launched in 2017 by the Cabreras.

Full of everything from gardening supplies to vintage finds, books, creations by local artists and more, the shop has a clean and cohesive whimsical aesthetic with bright pops of color, light wood, large windows and, of course, plants on all surfaces. The entire space is reminiscent of one of Cabrera’s printed artworks, also for sale inside the store on note cards, t-shirts and more.

It’s no wonder the store is flowing so well despite all that’s going on. Both Edgar and Suzanne studied interior design in college, and after earning a master’s degree in the subject, Suzanne stayed on at her university to continue teaching. Edgar then worked with Italian leather furniture company Natuzzi as a showroom designer, working throughout South America designing showrooms for the company. An Open Studio first came into the couple’s life in 2011 after the couple had twins.

“For the first year, I was a stay-at-home mom while Edgar continued to work for Natuzzi,” Suzanne explained. “At night and during naps, we munched on An Open Sketchbook – a blog I started in college that turned into a dream design studio. In 2012, Edgar quit his job to pursue our full-time studio work, which we did until 2017 when we opened The Tiny Greenhouse.

Despite the couple’s best efforts, Suzanne said they didn’t have the success they had hoped for with An Open Sketchbook before opening The Tiny Greenhouse. The retail operation was born out of a desire to have a place to showcase their work, particularly their greeting cards and prints at the time, as well as their other interests, home and garden.

And that vision has been a hit with plant lovers and plant killers alike, though plants can be a little demanding on merchandise according to Suzanne, who noted that they require constant attention to stay presentable and ready to be sold.

“Plants and their care play an important role in how we market the store,” she said. “Something may look pretty, but if the lighting is not suitable for the plant, it is forbidden. We use low light areas in the store for low light plants (and) sunny areas for our sun lovers. It also helps us help customers find the right plants for their similarly lit space. Lighting really dictates the layout, as it would in any home. »

For retailers looking to get into plants, Suzanne encourages people to “not underestimate the lighting conditions in your space”, noting that without ample natural light or adequate artificial light, it’s not worth it. the penalty. Retailers also need to be prepared for many changes, as new plants with new needs, alongside regular inventory, come and go constantly and require immediate action.

“We love to tell an ever-changing story through the gifts we host, the way they’re displayed, the gift tag bookmark you get when you leave the store,” she added. “For us, it’s like working behind the scenes at Disneyland. What started as a collection of vintage finds, paper goods and a few potted plants has turned into a creative playground for us as designers and community lovers. It’s so fun to work in three dimensions and massage the experience of visiting space.

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