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Business on College Street sells more than 50 percent of its stock in first few days

GARY ALLEN - Josi and Taylor Hickernell, co-owners of Uflora, prepare the College Street shop for First Friday Artwalk last week.

As the wait continues for it to start feeling less like winter and more like spring, Uflora Plant House in downtown Newberg officially opened its doors April 3.

The team of new owners Ella and Andrew Kaye and Taylor and Josi Hickernell have remodeled the quaint shop into a green oasis.

Capitalizing on a growing trend of people utilizing indoor plants, business was brisk upon opening last week.

"The first day was crazy. We had so many people coming in the first day and we had about 50 percent of our inventory and our shelves were looking desolate. We had to go back to our growers and restocked already," Ella Kaye said.

A 2016 National Gardening Survey found that of the 6 million people who took up gardening that year, 5 million were millennials, many with a penchant for house plants. One of the theories as to why is with growing college debt, marriage, buying homes later in life and the early adoption of technology, millennials have little garden space, but are very connected to the earth. This trend may be one of the reasons for Uflora's big boost on opening day.

"All of our stuff are foliage, succulents and botanicals that are indoor plants good for Pacific Northwest living. Some things definitely need more sunlight, but in general anything that can survive well in here can translate well into someone's homes, with the right watering and care," Ella Kaye said.

Before the business opened the team remodeled the shop to fit a unified vision of how it should look. In the back of the shop is a wall of windows that curve from the ceiling down the floor. To allow that nice filtered light to emanate from above, the group removed black cardboard that protected the widows previously hand painted with hanging potted plants.

"It was like a prophetic moment, to see the hanging potted plants painted on the paper before we moved in," Andrew Kaye said.

The natural hardwood floor was refinished with waterproof gloss and soft hues of colors are layered on the walls, leaving some of the authentic brick exposed. The shop features Northwest-native indoor plants set in a contemporary yet mosaic-like fashion.

The owners kept some of the original industrial bars and added some piping to hang the plants on.

"We are looking at having a lot of different installments in the next six months as we go along.To better the space now that we are operational there is a bunch of other stuff that we want to do on top of it," Ella Kaye said.

The design work for wedding events has already taken off.

"We have all been doing it during this opening period and it's starting to become the crazy season. That has been the fully functioning part for a while. This (the new shop) is the portion that has been taking some time," Ella Kaye said.

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