Tired of driving all the way out to a big box store for bedding plants or mulch? How about when you’re looking for the perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season? Look no further! Shoppe, right in the heart of Forest Park, has plants, gifts and home decor you’ll love! Mark Thompson tells us all about it in this week’s edition of Small Business Monday.
I’m Mark Thompson. My partner is Jay Draper, and our business is Shoppe. We’ve had our soft opening for a couple of weeks now and have had lots of business already! We’ve had lots of questions about why we named our business this way. If you look at the definition, it’s truly where our heart is.
“Shoppe – a deliberately archaic spelling of shop, used in the hopes of imbuing a store with old-fashioned charm or quaintness.”
We want to do business in an honest way, a relational way and to be a part of the community. We’re not trying to be big or be all things to all people. We want to be a natural, fluid place that follows the seasons and listens to our customers and what they need.
Primarily we want to be a full garden shop that provides all your seasonal plants as far as bedding plants, perennials and shrubbery, but more on a small scale. We would love to serve all of the new apartments that are popping up all over the city. There is a quote on our website that says, “Live beautifully. Have plants.” I think that notion that you can have houseplants in the city to brighten your day and we can help you find the right thing for the right spot.
Our greenhouse represents our business philosophy well. Even though it’s small, it’s quality. We want to be quaint but have quality products with the right thing at the right time. In the early spring, we’ll have tomatoes and all the vegetable plants. Right now we have hearty winter herbs.
One of the things I was striving for was promoting brands and companies that were smaller. Belle Meche, out of France, is our high end, vegetable based, clean burning candle. The scents are garden-inspired. The packaging is impeccable and makes a wonderful gift. Our Shoppe candle is a more affordable candle, and is made nearby in Tennessee.
We think of how people decide how to spend their extra money on things that aren’t a hundred percent necessary, but are important for quality of life. We want to make sure that we are a good value, so that when someone spends that extra money, they get something of quality that makes them feel better.
Jay and I live down the street and love Forest Park. He’s a huge Birmingham history buff. We have an awesome library at home and his collection of Birmingham books started three years ago with one shelf and maybe twenty books, to now with four shelves with not only books, but little pamphlets and brochures and all kinds of history materials.
Jay particularly loves this neighborhood. He really had been wanting to open a business like this for a long time. We were walking the dog one night and there was a big “for lease” sign on the property in front of where the greenhouse is now, next to this 1920’s bungalow. I said, “You know, that would work for a garden shop.” We had looked at properties in other neighborhoods, but nothing was quite the right fit. We met with the property owners and it was a really good conversation. They were so nice and kind and enthusiastic about the idea. That was seven months ago.
One of the hardest things was leaving a job that I loved where I was very comfortable and happy to take this leap into a new business. I was really close to my co-workers, like family. I knew I could keep those relationships, but that it would never be the same.
For the holiday season we will have garlands and wreaths, buck swags and home adornments like seasonal greens, branches, pine cones and berries; all of your Christmas decorating needs. In the spring, we hope to truly launch with a full line of soils, organics and mulches. That’s our Spring goal.
The great thing about having this business is seeing all of the activity that happens here in the neighborhood on a daily basis. I used to be gone all day to my other job and missed seeing the life of the neighborhood, like the Altamont school kids jogging down the sidewalk every day. I love how
Birmingham is coming back to having local businesses within neighborhoods!