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Downtown plant store helps new plant owners through the process with care, expertise

With a huge cut in hours due to the pandemic, then co-workers Indy Hill and Aaron Brandt took a chance and something they had always wanted to do — they opened a plant shop. PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Indy Hill (left) and Aaron Brandt of The Moss Works in downtown Gresham are always happy to help plant enthusiasts get started.

The two now own The Moss Works , a small indoor plant shop on 15 N.W. First St., in Gresham. Nearly two years into the plant business, the duo have set roots at their corner shop and developed a loyal clientele. However, when the pandemic hit, things were not looking so great for the pair.

"(During the pandemic) hours were cut so much for both of us," Brandt said. "We couldn't survive on what we were making."

The two both worked at Hippo Hardware & Trading Co. in Portland, Brandt in the hardware section and Hill as a manager. The two developed a fast bond as they spent their lunches and breaks talking about shared interests, especially plants.

So, with their current jobs not providing enough to sustain themselves, Hill took a chance and asked Brandt if he would be willing to open a plant shop with her.

Hill had a lot of experience owning, operating and managing a business. So, with her business know-how and Brandt's knowledge of plants that he got from college and years of working with them, Hill thought they would make a perfect team.

"(Owning a plant store) had always been my dream, but I never thought it would be feasible until we did it," Brandt said. "It has worked really well because Indy has (the business side) locked down."

Hill found a storefront just off Gresham's Main Street and the two jumped into business together in 2020. "It was hard for people to discover us because of where we are situated," Hill said. "But even then, for the first week we were open we saw a lot of growth." PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS  - The Moss Works has a wide selection of plants and plant accessories.

Hill and Brandt thank their repeat customers who often come in for new plants. Brandt and Hill both speculated that the pandemic and many folks being stuck inside pushed people to try new hobbies like indoor plant keeping.

With that growth in enthusiasts, Brandt and Hill said their store is perfect for new plant lovers who might not consider themselves green thumbs yet. "There are a lot of places to get plants, but what they will do is just send you on your way and not give you any idea on how to take care of them," Brandt said. "There is a big learning curve when you try to recreate nature in your house. A lot of the time, the bigger box stores set up people for failure.

At The Moss Works, Brandt and Hill try to inform their customers on how to best take care of their new plants and allow people to contact them at any time to ask about plant care.

On top of having a large selection of plants, pots, macramé plant hangers, watering utensils and a host of other goods, Brandt and Hill are both very proud of the store's custom soils they make for their customers. The two found that when they were starting their store there was a surplus of soil.

"We get (the soil) in bulk so we can pass it down to our customers at a lot less expense and in a quantity that they will actually need," Hill said.

What makes coming to their business every day so rewarding, beside being surrounded by plants, Hill and Brandt both love being able to share their passion with others.

"I mean, we have sold a lot of people's first plants, so that is really special to me," Hill said. Brandt also said that the excitement from kids interested in plants has been a rewarding part of starting the business.

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