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Local Plant Purveyor is Not Your Everyday Garden Shop

Writer / Jamie Hergott
Photographer / Justin Sicking

Root 31Angela Gapinski’s shop, Root 31 Modern Plant Boutique in Westfield, is not a typical garden center. Housed in a cozy bungalow just off Main Street, her modern-day approach to houseplants is geared toward a wide range of customers who maybe want plants but don’t have a green thumb.

“We don’t want people to be intimidated by buying plants,” Gapinski says. “We curate and choose plants that thrive a touch on neglect and are more forgiving. All different colors of thumbs can shop at our store.”

Root 31 offers houseplants and is open year-round, and Gapinski keeps the focus of her store on plants and flowers. Staff members are well-versed on the topic and can educate customers on what they may want in their homes. Gapinski loves that her shop shows people it’s possible to have a thriving houseful of leafy green beauties.

Gapinski grew up learning to love and care for plants. She’s a second-generation plant lover, having been raised in the greenhouse industry. Her grandpa built greenhouses all across the states, her father ran them, and her mother’s family came to the states from the Netherlands to be a part of the greenhouse industry as well. Gapinski is one of nine siblings, all of whom work in the industry, as do many of her cousins.

Her parents runs a commercial greenhouse supplying bedding plants and annuals to big box retailers. Gapinski’s childhood chores were in that very greenhouse, and they included identifying and caring for all kinds of plants.

Root 31She studied art in college, and she previously worked on window displays on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. She finally landed at a garden center, where she was hired as a merchandiser and floral designer for elaborate window displays.

“I walked in and I smelled my childhood,” she says. “I had no experience in floral design but I did know about color, balance and texture.”

She fell in love with her job as she began to teach others how to care for houseplants. It became her goal to have a shop of her own.

Gapinski began by running her business mainly online, propagating bits of her own collection. She and her husband, a graphic designer, found a house to lease in 2019 in which to open her brick-and-mortar shop. She had the name Root 31 picked out before she knew the store would actually be located off of U.S. Highway 31.

“It feels more like walking into someone’s home than a sterile shop,” Gapinski says.

She highlights her Floral Bar, where the home’s kitchen used to be, and where customers can choose individual stems to make their own to-go bouquet.

Root 31Gapinski says keeping plants is important for many reasons. She says many absorb toxins in the air, give off clean oxygen, and have been shown to help reduce stress.

She had only been open 10 months when the pandemic hit, and she wasn’t sure how people would respond.

“Buying plants seemed maybe frivolous, but what was beautiful was that people were starting different habits, and one of those was getting flowers for people they loved and missed,” she says. “They found a lot of joy in that.”

Gapinski’s future plans include creating an outdoor secret garden for people to walk through and enjoy, as well as bringing back bouquet-making classes.

Root 31 Modern Plant Boutique is located at 226 Park Street in Westfield. For more info, call 317-804-3567 or visit shoproot31.com.

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