Meet Shawn, co-owner of booSH Nursery in Seattle’s Central District. Shawn and booSH co-owner Julissa believe in the power of enriching lives through plant gifting and ownership. Shawn is passionate for plants and he wanted to share this love with the Central District, where there is less and less of the Black community every year, so he opened the doors to booSH Nursery on Juneteenth, 2021.
Fun-fact: booSH is pronounced bush and is the phonetic spelling of the word. Stop by booSH Nursery to ask Shawn the story.
Get to know more about Shawn and booSH Nursery in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Well, no one who comes in — unless they talk to me — understands the mission of the business, which is to enrich lives through plant gifting and ownership. We do that in several ways, but the one that people notice [right] off the bat is [booSH] being a low cost operator, having probably lower margins than most businesses, and not allowing price points to be a barrier to entry to plant ownership. Like, when you come in and buy a plant at $65 you better not kill it. That’s all. But then you come in and get a plant and a pot for $18. Then it’s like, “You know, I’ll do my best,” or “OK, I can give this as a gift.” We get a lot of people that come in that are going to housewarming parties and the like, and we get a lot of people coming in and doing gifting because of our price points. It really matches the mission of the store. We’re intentionally priced really low relative to everyone else, and it’s just to encourage gifting. We just want to make sure we’re at price points that aren’t barriers to entry. We have a whole rack of plants priced at $4. We have several pots below $2.50. It’s tougher because the location is small — it’s about 520 square feet. So our inventory turn is really high. There’s nothing in my store longer than two and a half weeks, ever. And at 520 square feet, we don’t have a storeroom, so it does mean my daughter is making constant trips to pick up plants, pots, and related accessories, but it allows us to accomplish the mission.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
We are a newer business. We’ve been open less than a month and a half, so we haven’t done a lot of crazy things. I think the thing that brought the most joy was at the grand opening on Juneteenth. We gave away over 100 sunflowers to people, most of [whom] made purchases but some of them were just little kids that were in the store or walking by with [their] parents. At the time we gave them away, [the sunflowers] were probably about six inches tall, but they were all this ginormous strain of sunflower, which should ultimately grow and be over six feet. So, people were given them in these cute little pots and they could take them home and plant them in their yard. We did get a lot of joy in that because it’s something we had to plan really early to be able to give them away at the grand opening. To give them when they were already six inches, we had to plant them a couple of months in advance.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
I think for us, everything always goes back to the mission and enriching lives with plant gifting and ownership. Everything that we do within the store sets out to accomplish that. So, our price points, our margins, the hours that we’re open, the education we provide, the services we provide around potting plants for you for free — everything that we do always reverts back to the mission. When it comes to, in general, my philosophy around supporting small businesses, it’s the idea that the same dollar needs to touch multiple hands in the community before it exits for our community to thrive. So, it’s great if you work at Amazon, but then you need to eat at Catfish Corner. And that Catfish Corner employee who took that dollar tip needs to get their coffee at Temple Pastries. Temple Pastries’s owner who took the dollar for that coffee needs to get the plant for their home at booSH. Before [that dollar] ultimately leaves the community and someone buys a Tesla.