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The Fernseed in Tacoma is a greenery lover's dream

Another week down, and it's time for a Friday night treat at the bar to celebrate!

But the bar we're going to has a different type of stemware, unrelated to wine or martinis. At The Fernseed in Tacoma, we'll be celebrating at the stem bar, filled with chrysanthemums, peonies, poppies, roses, eucalyptus, snapdragons and tulips - a bouquet of our favorites to savor at home that lasts far longer than a Friday night martini.

Owner Katherine Raz opened the first Fernseed location in 2019, and a second just last September on historic South Tacoma Way. With an all-female team, The Fernseed is dedicated to providing sustainable and local floral arrangements, houseplants and ceramics to the area. You won't find any floral foam, single-use plastic, or mass-produced pots with no drain hole at The Fernseed.

Raz moved to Tacoma from Chicago and had trouble finding the greenery she was looking for while decorating her new home.

"I was trying to fill the house with plants, and I could not find a place where I could buy a house plant and a cool pot in the same place," Raz said, "I couldn't even find cool indoor plant pots, so I kept thinking, 'What if I just had a store that sold plants and great pots?'"

Selling plants and great pots turned out to be in high demand during the pandemic, something Raz says they were incredibly fortunate to be involved in. With the shop closed, The Fernseed team shifted to selling online. It began with "plant grams," a potted plant with a handwritten greeting that shipped anywhere in the country as a pandemic cheer-me-up. The team also sold house plant kits and hosted Instagram Live feeds that walked new plant owners through planting and caring for their new addition.

"We were really lucky that it was, just by chance, a kind of COVID-proof business," Raz said of the houseplant hype that accompanied the pandemic. "It's almost like we were selling sourdough starter."

The Fernseed is focused on bringing local plants, stems and ceramic pots to the area with the goal of keeping 50 to 60 percent of the merchandise coming from Washington, Oregon, California, or British Columbia.

"When people buy from us, I want them to be able to buy something that's also supporting an artist or a small business," Raz said. "We're really just trying to focus on businesses that have a commitment to ethical and sustainable manufacturing."

The shop hopes to soon work directly with local growers, farmers and potters to bridge the existing gap between fresh flowers and consumers, often only accessible from weekend farmer's markets. Ceramics at the shop are either from small businesses or made of terracotta which has less packaging and waste from shipment than most other containers. Terracotta is also a breathable material that's healthy for the plant's growth, Raz said.

The stem bar, house plants and ceramics make The Fernseed a greenery lover's dream. Buy a plant and a pot together, and The Fernseed will plant it all for you, handing it off in pristine shape. If you're stumped at the stem bar, staff will happily help with making a bouquet, and the shop also loves saving the day for those searching for a last-minute gift.

"We're all to a point where we're trying to minimize our possessions," Raz said. "Giving somebody a potted plant or a flower is such an awesome gesture, and it's something that doesn't take up much space."

The Fernseed has two locations in Tacoma, both open to in-store shopping as well as curbside pick-up. Order online for delivery within 200 miles of the shop, or choose a potted plant that ships anywhere in the country.

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