Our Proctor shop is closing

Consolidating & simplifying in 2024

 
As of Monday, January 15, 2024, Fernseed will be permanently closing our Proctor location at 2703 North Proctor Street. Prior to closing, we'll be hosting a liquidation sale of the remaining Proctor inventory, offering 30-50% off ceramics, potting tools and accessories starting Thursday, January 4 through Sunday, January 14.
Rest assured, Fernseed is not going out of business! We encourage you to visit our second (soon to be only) Tacoma location at 5243 South Tacoma Way, where we have decided to consolidate operations in a long overdue effort to streamline and simplify.
We are so grateful to our Proctor neighbors and customers who supported us and cheered us on since we opened in April of 2019. While we're sad to leave the neighborhood that fostered our growth into the business we are today, we know this is the right move for the business, our customers, and most importantly, our staff.
 

Proctor sale details & shop hours

Our Proctor shop will be closed Tuesday, December 26 through Wednesday, January 3 as we prepare for the closure and sale.

PROCTOR SALE HOURS

Thursday, January 4 through Sunday, January 14
Open weekdays 11am-6pm (including Tues & Wed during sale days)
Saturdays 10am-6pm
Sundays 10am-5pm

All pottery, potting tools and accessories in the shop will be 30% off, with some special savings up to 50% off. Plants will *not* be discounted until the final days.
Our Proctor shop will be closed permanently after Sunday, January 14.

For leasing information regarding 2703 N. Proctor Street, please contact Drew Frame at Kidder Matthews.

SPECIAL SOUTH TACOMA HOLIDAY HOURS
January 15 (MLK Day) ~~ closed
 
 

The longer story of why

When I opened Fernseed in 2019, I had no idea what to expect! I chose a small storefront in Proctor because of the potential for foot traffic, thinking that a smaller square footage would reduce rental costs in case a plant shop just didn't "land" with the community. But it definitely landed, thanks in part to a huge boost in interest in indoor plants during the pandemic. As popular as we were (and thank you!), we were already struggling with the small space pre-COVID. It was always logistically challenging to receive pallets of pottery there, as there's no loading zone and no back room for storage, and when we started selling bouquets for Valentine's Day in 2020 (our first foray into florals), we couldn't process or build them at Proctor due to a lack of work space and refrigeration. (Did I ever tell you about the time we built 55 wrapped bouquets in my sun room?) It was during our pandemic closure that we realized we just didn't have enough space to expand the business the way we envisioned, which is why, in July of 2020, we signed a lease on a much bigger storefront on South Tacoma Way.
It was always weird—and logistically challenging—to have two storefronts in the same city. Staffing was challenging. Moving inventory from one location to the other was challenging. Explaining to people that we didn't sell flowers at Proctor was challenging.
Potentially the most challenging aspect of running a plant shop in that Proctor storefront is a lack of natural light. When I opened Fernseed originally, my plan was to focus on handmade pottery. I assumed 80% of our inventory would be home decor and plant pots, and plants would be the cherry on top, so to speak. Immediately after we opened, customers asked us for more plants, and they kept asking for more plants. So we redesigned the store a few times to make room for more plants. But our Proctor storefront never had enough light to keep them thriving in the winter. In 2020 we launched the 40% off Mondays sale solely as a way to move sad plants faster, but that deep discount really cut into our margins and the overall health of our business. In October of 2021, after South Tacoma had been open a year, we attempted a redesign of the Proctor space to refocus it again on home decor, dialing back the plant inventory and carrying more handmade ceramics, zines, posters, blankets, pillows, coffee mugs, and home decor gift-y stuff. I was thrilled about this approach, but our customers were not. People kept asking where all the plants went. So we brought the plants back again, and once again they struggled through the winter. (Yes, we know grow lights exist, but I don't use them at home, don't like the way they look, and didn't want to further invest in turning a store that was supposed to be focused on home design into a low-light nursery.)
It's not that I don't love selling plants. I love plants. But I'd rather sell them to you out of a space where I'm confident we can take care of them in the healthiest way possible before sending them home with you. With its south and west facing windows, saturated with light even in the darkest times of year, our South Tacoma location is that space. (Still though, we specialize in low light tolerant plants, because we know not everyone has a lot of natural light in their space.)
We also have enough space at South Tacoma Way to build, process, and refrigerate flowers. As floral delivery has become a bigger part of our business, it's gotten more and more awkward that we don't sell flowers at Proctor. It's like we can't give you the full, confident brand experience there anymore. At South Tacoma we have a whole basement for back stock, an entire secondary garage storefront space where we can host classes and workshops, and a full work room for storage and refrigeration of flowers during the busiest of holidays. In short, our South Tacoma shop functions the way we need a space to function to meet Fernseed's business needs—business needs I couldn't have anticipated when I started up in 2019 thinking we'd be selling mostly handmade pottery.
The primary driving reason for our exit from Proctor, however, is the impact having two storefronts has had on our staff. Working an open-close solo shift at Proctor can be pretty lonely. Some people enjoy it, but some people ended up feeling isolated, like they weren't part of our team. Staffing two retail locations within 5 miles of one another also means that we always need an extra staff person to work at Proctor even though our sales haven't increased much percentage-wise by doubling our footprint. When someone calls in at the last minute (which happens frequently, see: COVID), we also have to scramble to find coverage across two storefronts. This has taken a toll on any manager tasked with finding (or being) that last minute coverage. It's time for us to simplify.
It just so happens that our lease is up at Proctor in 2024, so we figured now is the time to call it. Hard to believe 5 years went by that quickly. While my heart is sad for what we leave behind in Proctor, I am actually looking forward to focusing my energy on one neighborhood: one business district association, one community council, one trick or treat event, one holiday parade. We've been split between two places for so long. I haven't had time to show up to anything, even though community involvement is hugely important to me.
 

Visit us at South Tacoma Way

If you have not yet been to our South Tacoma Way location, I strongly encourage you to pay us a visit in what has now become our little headquarters. You will love the flowers, the light, the fact that will always have extra boxes for you to carry your purchases out in. Parking is easy (in fact, har har, you can do like this and just drive right in—just kidding, please don't), and bonus: we have Howdy Bagel here now just down the street. We're looking forward to watching the community down here grow, and growing along with it.
So please come shop our Proctor sale starting January 4th. Our final sale day is Sunday, January 14. I'll be working that final shift on the 14th, so please: bring the tissues.
Thank you all, and most importantly to our Proctor neighbors, for supporting us through almost 5 years of business. We couldn't be more grateful to you for the springboard you created, and we hope that you will continue to grow with us as we flourish in our South Tacoma home.

Thank you for a wonderful 5 years in Proctor,

Katherine Raz
shop owner

Shop Closure FAQs

Will my punch card still work?

Of course! You can still earn punches for every plant you purchase, and use your full punch cards, at our South Tacoma location.

Will gift cards still work?

Yes. Your Fernseed gift cards are valid both online and at our South Tacoma Way location.

Who is taking over that space at Proctor?

We don't know yet! You can send any inquiries about the space to Drew Frame at Kidder Matthews.

Are you eliminating staff with the closure?

Fortunately, no! As it is we've been stretched thin staffing-wise in anticipation of closing this location, and all of our staff were on board with this decision. We don't anticipate cutting any jobs or hours as a result of this decision.