Planting the Seed: Local entrepreneur uses green thumb to bring life to downtown Phoenix

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It’s only been open since February, but Michael Lanier’s new nursery, Pueblo, has already brought a plethora of unique plants to Phoenix’s Garfield neighborhood.

“We want people to come in and be excited to see things they haven’t seen before,” he says.

Growing up, Lanier would travel among Queen Creek, northern New Mexico and Alaska to visit his grandparents. He often spent his time wandering forests and deserts, studying the plants and wildlife in their habitats.

His exposure and experiences with the flora of different locales led him to start his own businesses and quickly become known as downtown Phoenix’s greenthumb.   

In contrast to his other shop, The Bosque on Roosevelt Street, which has been open since July 2015, Pueblo was designed to complement the historic Brill Pharmacy building in which it’s located.

Diverse selections of plants are displayed on antique wooden desks, while vintage maps of Arizona are placed throughout the shop to evoke an authentic, local atmosphere. 

“The building was built in 1926 so we tried to keep it as historical as possible,” Lanier says. “To go with it, we tried to not have anything be super-bright, dim or colorful, so the plants could stand out on their own.”

Lanier says he doesn’t like the idea of mass production and “cluttering five things into one pot,” because it takes away the individuality of each plant.

“We do it like this so you can recognize what each one is on its own and for what it is,” he says.

According to Lanier, weather is a big factor when owning an outdoors nursery, so he takes his time observing each of his plants every morning to make sure they’re thriving.

“We basically water the plants day by day,” he says. “The indoor plants have more leeway, but we’ll spray everything down and we’ll go through to make sure to mist things like the air plants and succulents.”

Lanier says the shop does not carry anything fake, plastic, manufactured or high-maintenance. 

“We try not to sell things that are too tricky,” he says. “If I can’t take care of them or a regular customer couldn’t take care of them, we wouldn’t want people to have them.”

Lanier says the shop’s focus is to make sure customers get the most out of the plants they purchase.

“The goal is that hopefully they return, but it’s not like we try to cheat someone on something so they come back,” he says.

“We want it to live,” he continues. “If we know it lives, they’ll appreciate it enough to probably get another one.”

With the short amount of time that Pueblo has been open, it has already gathered a number of regulars who visit the shop.

“We have people that come in every few days or weekly,” Lanier says. “We try to know everyone by their first name by the second or third time they come in.”

Lexi Akinbinu, who has visited Pueblo a few times, says the shop could suit anyone’s style.

“I talked to the owner for a while and I could see how passionate he was,” she says. “He was also very educated and definitely knew what he was talking about.”

Lanier says he is content withwhere he is now.

“When I first opened, someone was like, ‘It’s like having a baby’ and I was like, “There is no way,’” he laughs. “But it really is. You have to take care of it, make sure it’s nurtured, and you can’t forget about it or let it slip up.”

“I’m here and this is what I want to be doing.”

Pueblo is located on the corner of 10th and Pierce streets in Phoenix.
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Follow Lanier’s endeavors on Instagram at @the.pueblo and @thebosque.

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