By Ruth Eddy
On one of the last sunny days of the year, Tylor Rogers looks out an open garage door at Arium Botanicals, soaking in the fresh air with a room full of plants behind him. Just outside the door is the busy traffic at the intersection of MLK and Tillamook Streets and the skeleton of a sign left vacant from the previous tenants. “A sign is next,” Tylor says, “maybe something that just says ‘plants’.”
Over the last few months, Anthony Sanchez, 22, and Tylor Rogers, 24, partners in life and business, have taken over the former home of the Land Rover repair shop, Green Oval, which moved to a larger space at 121 NE Weidler Street, and the old garage is blooming with new life.
“I love seeing people’s faces when they walk in,” Rogers says. Most of the people who came to Arium’s grand opening this summer were plant enthusiasts who had started following the shop when it was only online. Like a well-cared-for plant, the business has grown visibly. Prior to their recent move, they rented a 400 square foot space in the Standard Dairy Building further north on MLK. There, they shipped online orders from the store half the week and were open to the public the other half.
“We would drive past this building every day on our way to work and imagine what it would be like,” said Rogers, who wasted no time when the building went up for rent. “It’s nice to be able to branch out and grow, so to say,” he said with a laugh. The new space is more than six times larger than their old shop. It’s painted a bright
white, with garage door windows inviting sunlight for cactus arranged on the floor. Other house plants are paired with locally made ceramic pots and macramé hangers. Rogers and Sanchez say they feel like they have found their forever home.
The shop’s name, Arium, is a representation of the space. It’s a play on “terrarium”, which breaks down into to Latin roots Terre, or Earth, and arium, or container.
“This is an entire vessel,” Rogers said, “Think of it as a large terrarium to host these plants and grow them to bring into other people’s spaces.”
Tylor and Anthony have a clear love for plants and are enthusiastic and approachable about sharing their knowledge with people looking to buy their first house plant or
to add an exotic aroid to their collection. “We have definitely killed plants in the past from not knowing how to take care of it. So we want to set everyone up as best as we can,” said Sanchez, recalling the fate of his first houseplant, a parlor palm from The Home Depot.
The house plant industry has seen huge growth in the last decade. Arium is a boat on that rising tide. A recent article in the NY Times reported a botanic design company, Greenery NYC saw a 6,500 percent increase in business in the past ten years. “I think it does something different for everyone,” Rogers said, “For us, we don’t have pets.”
Sanchez added, “But when we come home, it’s nice to walk into a space with living things.” Just like pets, houseplant owners find ways to communicate with their floral family, picking up hints about their plant’s needs.
Sanchez and Rogers have become more selective with the plants they have at their house as the collection in the shop has grown. Occasionally, they do become attached
to new plants for sale, but they are always happy to see them go to a new home. Many customers come back to share pictures of new growth. “It’s cool to create relationships with the people who acquire our plants,” Sanchez said, “You kind of feel like the plant is still in our life.”
On a recent walk in the neighborhood, the couple spotted a plant in a window, with the Arium tag still attached. Sanchez shook their head
recalling the feeling. “That’s really weird, like bizarre.”
“It’s super special to know we are playing a little piece in people’s lives,” Rogers added.
2046 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd