The Greenhouse, a new “plant boutique” located at 1234 S. 13th Street, is carefully curated – bathed in sunshine and bursting with color. Plants line the shelves, hang from stands and perch on tables. Baskets, decorative prints, vases, pots and other goods from Omaha makers sit atop vintage furniture.
If it wasn’t a shop, The Greenhouse could easily pass for an art exhibit. It’s no surprise, in fact, that owner Christina Mainelli studied Art and English in college.
Prior to opening the brick and mortar store, Mainelli, 32, operated The Greenhouse as a servicing business for four years. She taught workshops, watered and cared for plants, sold handmade goods at pop-up shops and created floral arrangements for weddings.
Mainelli said she knew that she would be opening the shop in late March, but due to COVID-19 she wasn’t sure what the response would be. Her original plan was to use the space as a studio and teach workshops, but when it became clear coronavirus wasn’t going away anytime soon, she made the switch to full retail.
“I didn’t know if people were still staying at home and would prefer to just do things online,” Mainelli said. “That first weekend I was open [in August] was crazy. I was almost completely cleaned out after the weekend, so that was really great.”
Since that first weekend, The Greenhouse has remained open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Mainelli said there has been a steady stream of customers—in part because people stuck at home want to add new life to their spaces.
Mainelli also said that, even amidst a global pandemic, the timing for the shop was right: The “plant craze,” an increasing consumer trend among Millennials, had hit Nebraska.
“I know that when we first started doing this four years ago, the plant craze was kind of starting to take off, especially in bigger cities. And now, you know everything kind of takes a little while to get to Nebraska. But, now that it’s here—it’s so true,” Mainelli said.
Mainelli said something that makes her store unique is that she strives to have one-on-one interaction with her customers and find the best plant for each individual.
“I’ve had so many people who come in and they’ve never bought a plant before and they want something they knew they won’t kill, or they’re trying to add to their collections. It’s been very cool to see,” Mainelli said.
Mainelli’s friend and fellow Omaha maker Joy O’Conner said she has enjoyed seeing The Greenhouse come to be.
“We did [makers] markets for the longest time together, and so that was where I could go and grab stuff from her. And now, with her having a shop open, it’s nice to be able to go and just pop in and see everything and have it all be on display,” O’Conner said.
Mainelli hopes to teach workshops again once it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, however, she plans to continue growing her online shop and remain open for retail.
“I’m really hyped that people are getting into [the shop] because I think it makes them more aware of their environment,” Mainelli said. “Tending to the plants you have is kind of a direct replication of how we need to take care of the environment.”