Staying connected: Plant owner credits community focus and social media with shop’s success
Published 10:43 am Friday, November 19, 2021
By MEG HERNDON | Staff Writer
CALERA – Plant, a botanical lifestyle shop located on Calera Main Street, opened its doors officially on Oct. 2, 2020, in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this has not dimmed the store’s success.
The store sells plants, decor and gifts at its brick and mortar. Its online shop offers various boxes that people all over the continental U.S. can purchase, and people all over the country do purchase from the store. From Pennsylvania to California, Plant has loyal customers in many states, not just Alabama.
Its monthly subscription box, gift box and Plant Club Membership are fan favorites.
The monthly subscription box is specially made with unique gifts, seasonal plants and decor. It is $40 a month with an initial three-month commitment. Huff said something she is proud of is that a lot of the original subscription box subscribers are still subscribed to this day.
The gift box is specially curated, buyers can even request specific occasions that the box be made for. It comes gift wrapped and can include a special message as well. It is a one-time commitment of $45.
The Plant Club Membership includes a Plant of the Month exclusive and a 10 percent off in-store discount. This box is a curated experience unique to the members. The Plant of the Month could include a gift or an exclusive plant that is only for the members. It is a $20 monthly payment.
Andrea Huff, owner and founder of Plant, found that the pandemic pushed her to think more creatively.
“I have never opened a business, not during a global pandemic,” Huff said. “That kept us on our toes and forced us to be creative which I think is what you want anyway as a small business owner.”
Huff said that she focused on trying to bring in sales without needing to have people merely stumble upon the storefront.
“I’m an entrepreneur and, you know, we aren’t counting on people just walking in. It’s thinking about how we can make sales without a single person stepping into the store.
“So that’s what a lot of traditional brick and mortars were having to face during COVID-19 and during the shutdown, but that’s how we opened, and that’s how we continue to operate,” Huff said. “So it just forced us to be very creative and we have now known any other way.”
One asset that has been especially helpful for the business is social media.
“I think any business these days has to be social media focused,” Huff said, “I am really focused on creating content and having an enjoyable experience and then sharing it with others.”
Huff said that as a millennial herself, loving social media comes with the territory.
“It’s a great way to connect with the community because I feel like everything that we do is community-driven. We are always able to connect online and have that immersive experience which I love.”
Plant was not a random adventure for Huff. She grew up gardening with her two grandmothers. Though both had different styles when it came to their botanical habits.
One “worked the fields” and grew up in the country growing crops.
“She could root a stick, literally,” Huff said, explaining how she would often pull over when driving if she saw a plant she liked on the side of the road so that she could take a cutting home to root it.
Her other grandmother “is very out of Southern Living, everything is methodical, everything is planned and everything is just gorgeous,” Huff said.
Both of their lifestyles influenced her own.
“I had to do what felt right for me,” Huff said. “And I love having plants indoors. I love using them decoratively, I love the way that it feels when you walk into a home that has beautiful plants just thriving. I feel like it’s the difference between a house and a home.”
Huff majored in business and worked a variety of jobs that lead her to where she is now. She worked as a financial counselor at Alabama Oncology for eight years, helped her grandparents sell jewelry at festivals across the country and worked at Leaf & Petal in Mountain Brook before opening Plant.
One thing that Huff emphasizes is her passion to make Calera a thriving community, and how she hopes to take part in that through Plant.
“This doesn’t need to just be a place to sleep, and it doesn’t have to be,” Huff said. “Whenever I have company and I want to take them somewhere, I don’t always want to go to Birmingham. We need to have shops around town that we can be proud of and show off. I think that is something that a lot of people my age and younger are really focusing on. We’re not just moving out of the suburbs, we are making the suburbs our home.”
Part of building a thriving community, Huff explains, is shopping local. She said that shopping local is not just about buying from local stores, it’s bigger than that.
“It’s important for everyone to realize what it means when you do shop local,” Huff said. “That you are employing local people. And that such a high percentage of what you pay is staying in your town and your county and that’s what we are able to reinvest and bring more and more and more.”
To view all of Plant’s online items and box-based services visit Plantcalera.com. You can follow Plant on social media at @plantcalera on all platforms.
Plant is located at 10876 AL-25 Calera, Ala, 35040.