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A tiny plant store on tony Fillmore

Organic forms and abundant greenery mark Plants and Friends at 1906 Fillmore.

A NEIGHBOR, out for a walk one night soon after Plants and Friends opened its new shop at 1906 Fillmore in early October, stopped to admire the greenery in the window.

“It’s fun,” she said to another neighbor walking by. “It makes you smile.”

And so it does. Who would think — in the age of international fashion boutiques and cosmetics salons — that a tiny plant store could sprout on tony Fillmore Street?

Owner Nick Forland, that’s who. Suggest to him that he’s a dreamer for opening a petite plant store in a high-rent district and he seems completely surprised anyone could think he’s taking a risk.

“We’ve made a plant store work for two years in Hayes Valley,” he says with a toothy grin. “We had a test run.”

Forland and his collaborators created the first Plants and Friends shop in 2017 at 542 Laguna Street, just off Hayes, in an even smaller space. A photographer and “experiential designer,” Forland had become entranced with green growing things while landscaping his own place in the Outer Sunset. 

As a result, he became interested in “plants for city living” for people who don’t have the time or space for landscaping, yet want to connect to nature.

Already he and his friends are finding the new Fillmore shop attracts a much different clientele than the original Hayes Valley store.

“Hayes Valley is young — a lot of apartments with people just moving to the city,” says operations manager Harmony Corelitz. “We’re here to show we’re adults, too.”

Forland says that after he signed the lease for 1906 Fillmore — formerly an art gallery and an adjunct to the next-door jewelry shop HiHo Silver, among other things — he went across the street for a burger at Roam and marveled at his good fortune.

Plants and Friends is the second shop of its kind created by Nick Forland.

“Fillmore is just such an old street,” he says. “I can’t believe I’m on this street known around the world. It’s a different feeling. You just get so many people walking Fillmore.”

Naturally his friends helped create the stylish and organic look of the shop. 

“I wanted to replicate the feeling of being consumed by plants,” Forland says. His friend Lea Saito, an interior architect, came up with the forms of the display shelves. A welder friend created the bracketless powder-coated steel shelves. Artisan friends from New York plastered the walls the color of a blushing peach.

“It creates some beautiful effects — especially the shadows if there’s a plant in the window,” says Forland. “Plants are not rectangles. We were trying to create more of an organic flow to the space.”

The new shop has more pots on display, many from local ceramicists, as well as refillable sacks of potting soil and fertilizer. There also are plant-based body products.

“There’s a little more breathing room,” says Forland.

And they’ve already been asked to provide plants and living walls for several local businesses.

“It’s been going well,” Forland says. “We’re like the new kid in school. Everybody has been so welcoming and friendly — every day someone new comes in.”

He finds some irony in the fact that plants are now trending online.

“On social media, plants are the craze,” Forland says. “I’m okay with buying certain things online, but not a plant. There’s the experience of going into a plant shop where you can feel the environment. You could be inspired.”

Especially given his background in experiential events, Forland is planning fun and photographable celebrations at the shop, including plant propagation parties.

And then there are the possibilities with cannabis. He’s looking now for new holiday gifts, including something called A Pot for Pot.

“We’re always exploring new products,” Forland says, flashing another grin.