STUMP’s newest Van Aken shop contains 1,280 square feet of floor space and is ready to sell its lush offerings to the residents of Cleveland.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STUMP

When Emily Brown and Brian Kellett first opened STUMP in 2015, they weren’t sure what to expect. The pair, who were dating at the time, didn’t possess much retail or plant expertise. However, their unique backgrounds from the Columbus College of Art and Design—hers in industrial design, his in photography—paved the way for success.

STUMP’s minimalist design showcases its green offerings with curated ease. The aesthetic may be a siren call for millennial Instagram users, but Kellett hopes to attract all generations of plant parents—not just ones on social media. Business success can be credited not only to stunning design, but also to customer experience. All employees are trained anywhere from one to three months in order to become plant experts. They sell desert and tropical plants and are well-versed in plant care essentials. If employees don’t know the answer to a specific question, Kellett says he and Brown are always available to field calls. They also have a wide selection with anywhere from 200-400 plants in the store, and typically 100-150 types on display.

Three years later (and now married!), they opened their fourth store in Cleveland’s Van Aken District, located in the suburb of Shaker Heights. Garden Center caught up with Kellett to discuss the recent opening, and what the future has in store for STUMP.

Photo COURTESY OF STUMP

Garden Center: When did you open the Cleveland location?

Brian Kellett: We opened on Aug. 24th.

GC: Why Cleveland?

BK: After we opened our second location in German Village of Columbus, we were approached by RMS, who developed the Van Aken District. Though we weren’t looking for another location at the time, after we met and learned more about the project, it seemed like a great fit. We visited Shaker Heights several times for community events and were very impressed by what we saw. Cleveland didn’t have any smaller retail plant shops, so we were confident that there was a market for what we offer.

GC: What has the community reception been like so far?

BK: The community has been very supportive from the day we announced that we had plans for opening a shop in Cleveland. Since we have opened, it has been a pleasure to hear such positive feedback on what we do for the community.

Photo COURTESY OF STUMP
GC: What are some of the business lessons you’ve learned since you first began in 2015?

BK: Emily and I did not go to school for business, nor did we take courses on finances, communications or management—so these past four years have been challenging but extremely rewarding. The main lessons that we have learned are that communication with our team is key to keeping us all on the same page even though we have employees in three cities that are hundreds of miles apart.

Another lesson has been that the key to growing is being okay with being nervous and a little afraid, but not to the point where we feel paralyzed by what our decisions might lead to. We have taken risks that, looking back, seem ridiculous. But we realize they were meant to be, which makes all those sleepless nights well worth it.

GC: In the past, STUMP has held educational plant care classes and brunch events. Will the location in Cleveland offer any special classes or collaborations with local businesses?

BK: We’re hoping to host some yoga classes. (Editor’s note: Click here for session details.)

GC: Has your social media presence changed at all since you started? (At time of print, STUMP has 32.9k Instagram followers)

PHOTO COURTESY OF STUMP

BK: We try not to follow any rules where it’s like, ‘Post three times a day,’ or anything like that. We’re careful about what we share. We want it to be meaningful.

GC: What’s next for STUMP? Do you think you’ll open additional shops?

BK: We have a lot planned for the next several years, but our plans are hardly concrete. We strongly believe that if we remain receptive and keep in close contact with our team, we’ll be led in the right direction. Currently, we are working on a shipping/receiving location in Columbus that will also have retail hours on the weekends. We are also working on finishing a small greenhouse that we’ll use for back stock, research and development, and events.

Interview has been edited for clarity. For more: www.stumpplants.com