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Small Business

Desert Side City Grows A Sustainable Houseplant Store

The Phoenix, AZ small business sits in a repurposed building on Historic Grand Avenue // Photo courtesy of Pueblo

A jungle in a desert? Pueblo makes it happen. 

This Phoenix, Arizona plant shop may be surrounded by sand, rock, and cacti but their store’s eclectic houseplant and decor offerings are anything but arid. Pueblo started a quaint booth at a downtown market in Arizona’s capital city at the start of 2015. Like so many small businesses, Pueblo’s owner Michael Lanier poured his heart and soul into growing his brainchild — literally. Lanier is an Arizona native and was raised in one of the American West’s most striking deserts: the Sonoran. While growing up, Michael traveled to austere locations across the country and around the globe, developing an insatiable appetite for unique greenery and a desire to learn about different cultures across America. With that, he fostered an increasing lust to bring these plants from different environments into people’s homes. 

Owner Michael Lanier stands behind a Monstera Deliciosa // Photo courtesy of Pueblo

Pueblo translates to “the people,” or in some cases, “town or village;” and that’s precisely what Pueblo has become: an inclusive store that is a peaceful haven for the bustling and sun-drenched city of Phoenix. At the rate this metropolis is moving, that’s not an easy feat. The city has seen a burst in growth in the past few years, named by the 2018 Census Survey as one of the quickest expanding cities in terms of population, presumably due to its pleasant, desert climate and affordable cost of living. Between 2017 and 2018, the medium-sized city welcomed over 25,000 new Arizonians. With that growth comes a growing diversity of people, and ample space for small businesses of all types and backgrounds. 

Patrons pose with their new Staghorn Fern //  Photo courtesy of Pueblo

To that end, Pueblo’s unique ability to foster a community took on life quickly as the market booth with limited inventory graduated into a more expansive brick-and-mortar store and rapidly expanded into another one. Needless to say, having two locations in any city is a triumph for any small business, particularly in the internet age where so many items can be ordered with nearly zero effort online. But, Pueblo’s personality, inclusivity, and warmth keeps customers coming back for more. 

Plants line the inside of the local business //  Photo courtesy of Pueblo
The historic exterior of the shop leans into an earthy and cohesive aesthetic //  Photo courtesy of Pueblo

Despite growing so quickly, Pueblo never forgets the world that lends these flourishing plants to us. The store has taken a strong stance on sustainability and pledges to use the minimal amount of resources necessary to keep things moving. Of course, no company can have zero impact on the environment, but Pueblo takes environmental impact seriously, particularly as a small business that relies entirely on the fruits of the Earth. “Pueblo’s as a company has always been focused on the world we live in,” writes Lanier. 

A team member unloads a giant alocasia on delivery day //  Photo courtesy of Pueblo

Pueblo sources its plants from regional, wholesale growers — a tactic that limits transportation pollution and supports other local businesses. When regional options aren’t an option, Lanier and his now ten-person team look to other US-based growers. This isn’t always the lowest cost option, and thus it’s not the commonly used one by most businesses. Yet, Pueblo sees the importance of supporting local business and the sustainability of doing so is an integral part of their brand identity. In addition, Pueblo ensures all of its products are bought from distributors who employ fair labor practices. 

In addition to their sourcing, Pueblo uses as much sunlight as possible in its spaces (which are in repurposed historic buildings) in order to minimize electricity usage. This may sound like a common tactic for a plant shop, but many actually incur large electricity costs through automatic misting, artificial lighting, and climate control. By leaning into the natural environment, Pueblo gives back to the world that gives them their green beauties.

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