Plant shop owner hopes move pays off
Gurton's Plant Shop recently moved from a garage-style setup in the Multnomah Village French Quarter to a bigger, more conventional business in the heart of Hillsdale.
Owner Julina Abbott hopes to use the bigger space to bolster her shop's services.
The new location, which opened in May at 6360 S.W. Capitol Highway next to Food Front Cooperative and other businesses, includes a more varied array of plants and accoutrements.
Abbott added more of what she calls "statement pieces" such as an air plant that resembles a flurry of octopus tentacles and can be mounted on a wall, and a rare philodendron that spreads its stems wide.
"(They're) statement pieces where people come over and say, 'Is that alive?' Yeah, but it's a piece of art," Abbott says. "We're trying to bring something unique and conversational to the table."
Abbott has also added cacti to Gurton's collection because she can regulate temperature better in the new space and has increased the store's supply of gift items such as greeting cards, ceramics and tea.
And Abbott is making a concerted effort to help home and business owners with plant installation. She advises customers about which plants are amenable to which locations, how to care for plants and discusses the benefits of a plant-friendly environment.
"We really want our customers to feel confident when they leave — that they know they're putting their plant in the right spot, they know how to take care of it and they're not going to be sad because something happened to it," Abbott says.
Abbott encourages customers not to be discouraged if their plant dies, and to try to incorporate a diverse collection.
"It's not always your fault. You have to get over that hump of 'I don't want to be responsible for killing something,'" Abbott says. "What other thing can you add to your collection? That's what we try to always seek out."
While many interior structures are devoid of living organisms beyond humans and pets, Abbott says plants bring rooms to life.
"Especially with what's happening lately, our population is growing, we're shoving more big buildings into smaller spaces, people are losing their yards and green space around them," Abbott says. "The (plants) actually bring life into a sterile environment."
Abbott was raised by a family of florists and, as a child, aspired to continue to immerse herself in plants when she grew up. And she says her plant-friendly upbringing positively impacted her life.
"I think I just gained a respect for nature in general but also the ability to make something beautiful," Abbott says.
When she got older, she chose to attend medical school and worked as a nurse in Seattle for 12 years. But after her husband started a new job in Portland, he told Abbott to follow her true passion. So she opened the shop in Multnomah Village in 2017.
"He said 'Hey, why don't you do what you've always wanted to do,'" Abbott says.
With an amalgam of adjoining shops next door at the new location, Abbott believes Gurton's will garner increased exposure.
"I think we're going to be able to reach a lot more people here," she says. "Our old space was great. We had a really great first year; we made a lot of great community connections. It was just time for us to move on."
Overall, she describes Gurton's aesthetic as muted, clean and natural.
"It's a personal taste," Abbott says. "There's a shop for everyone and a plant for everyone and our aesthetic makes us feel like we're home and (is similar to) art work that would be in our own home."
At the grand opening of the Hillsdale location, Abbott says 90 customers stopped by during a three-hour span.
"We're really grateful for the customer base we built in Multnomah Village, and a lot of them are coming over and we're grateful for that," Abbott says. "And we're really excited to be in Hillsdale."
For more information, visit gurtons.com.