After opening their doors in their first space on July 8, 2021, at 123 E. Kalamazoo St., Neva Lee’s owners, Faun Donald and Luke Trusnovec, have re-potted their plant business in its new digs.
Now located at 109 S. Washington Square, a former popcorn shop, Neva Lee’s is all about making things, growing things and getting your hands dirty, said Donald, who named the business after her great aunt.
“She was a spitfire of a lady and a wonderful human who encouraged me nonstop,” Donald said. “She passed a few years ago, and I didn’t want the memory of her to go away.”
Neva Lee’s began as an online plant store but expanded to a brick and mortar to allow more community connections with people who love plants and to fill a retail void.
“At that time, there weren’t any house-plant specific shops in the area to purchase rare or uncommon plants,” Donald recalled.
From there, things happened quickly, and within a few months its grand opening saw ample support from local plant enthusiasts. Continual community support led to Neva Lee’s outgrowing its former location and further expanding to fit its budding inventory.
The store stocks plants, plant-related merchandise, pots, custom soil blends, gifts, art, paper goods and more.
“We offer plant repotting services, plant rentals for events, interiorscapes and plant placement in offices and businesses — including maintenance, moss walls, classes and workshops,” Donald said. “We’ll even come to your business or party to do classes and team-building make-and-takes.”
Soon, they hope to add a coffee counter, lounge and more games in addition to their “Street Fighter” arcade game. The pair also plan to host events, workshops, pop-ups with local makers, vendor markets, and arts & crafts social hours.
For Donald, her love of plants carries over to playing matchmaker to customers and in search of their perfectly-paired plants. The small shop is uniquely personal, with only Donald and Trusnovec at the roots of the business.
“You get that accessibility and the one-on-one interaction,” Donald said. “We remember you, your stories, your faces, your wish-list plants … even the number of plants you’ve killed,” she joked.
Donald said each day provides another opportunity for customers to walk in, get the “happy feels,” and start or continue their plant journey.
“Our goal is to have a space for people to come and visit, shop, hang out and just be,” Donald said. “We want plant people and non-plant people to feel they can wander in here without pressure or worry. They can chit chat, laugh, grab a coffee, ask questions or browse for the enjoyment of live greenery.
“Plants are beneficial to your mental health and uplift your mood,” she added. “We invite you to come in and be around the plants. Your day will be better.”
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