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Tiny space contends with big challenges

British Columbia · Jun 2, 2020

Narin Ramcharitar & Elaine Simandl, owners of Plant Therapy in Vancouver

Website: planttherapyyvr.com

Instagram: @planttherapy.yvr


On Main Street, small brick and mortar retailers have disproportionately bore the brunt of lockdown measures; especially those deemed nonessential by provincial governments. Plant Therapy in Vancouver was forced to temporarily close in early March, and now its owners Elaine Simandl and Narin Ramcharitar are struggling with how to reopen a retail space that cannot accommodate social distancing.

“As closures start to lift, and new guidelines come into play for retail, a lot of small retailers that utilize a tiny amount of square feet, like us, will have a hard time adapting to the new rules. We're simply not set up to maintain a six foot social distance protocol in our shop.” - Elaine Simandl and Narin Ramcharitar, owners of Plant Therapy.

Vancouver’s Plant Therapy opened a little more than a year ago in an altogether different world. At the time, owners Elaine Simandl and Narin Ramcharitar were thrilled that their dream of running a super social boutique plant business could finally take root. Having previously worked in retail, they were excited to try something new. “We both have a strong passion for plants and thought we could offer a retail space that was a fun experience for us and the customer. As the name implies, we very much believe caring, and tending to plants, is therapeutic for overall growth and health,” say Simandl and Ramcharitar.

All was great until the pandemic hit, and mandatory retail closures were put into effect. Since then Simandl and Ramcharitar have been in a constant state of adaptation. "It hasn't been easy, but we've been able to make the best of a really strange and difficult situation." When restrictions loosened, they began to offer contactless delivery and curbside pickup but the bigger challenge is their retail space; it’s so small it can’t accommodate social distancing. 

This obstacle would be doom and gloom for others, but for Plant Therapy it has been boom and bloom; thanks to their optimism and ingenuity. “We're focusing on moving strictly online and expanding our e-commerce reach. We're also developing a more in-depth plant education aspect for our website, giving our clients a resource of information. A long term goal is to have a ‘Plant Doctor’ available to clients seeking help and advice for their plants via video calls.”

Pivoting your business is never easy. Simandl and Ramcharitar understand, but encourage you to persevere regardless of what form it takes. “Hang in there and trust your intuition and knowledge. You're where you are because you've been fearless. Don't stop now. You're the only one that knows the challenges you're facing. Remember that feeling when you first opened your doors and thought anything was possible? Kindle that and take it forward with you!” If that’s the seed of success, be like Plant Therapy and nurture it.

To support Elaine Simandl and Narin Ramcharitar, Vancouverites can visit the Plant Therapy website and order plants. Live elsewhere? Follow them on Instagram!

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