David Erbe and Aidan Robinson, co-owners of The Plant Gays, in their East Market shop repotting a plant, one of the many services offered in the store. Credit: Jen Brown Photography, courtesy of David Erbe

For those of us who feel outside of the proud plant parent community or have a knack for picking plants, The Plant Gays might be able to help.

The local plant store, located at 212 Kelton Ave. in the East Market, is run by two recent Ohio State graduates, known as The Plant Gays. The couple advertise a variety of plant-related services, from repotting plants to in-home consultations.

David Erbe, owner of The Plant Gays, said the idea started as a simple 3D printing hobby of creating silicone molds and concrete planters to pass the time during quarantine. Since then, the hobby has grown into a successful business with a physical store where locals can buy items, like houseplants and propagation stations.

“We also offer an in-home design service,” Erbe said. “If people are interested, and that’s where we go home and kind of see what kind of space and lighting they’re working with, and can choose plants for their space as well as design furniture interior, for example, they are looking for.

Aidan Robinson, co-owner of The Plant Gays, said the business model has changed over time as they continue to grow. After opening an Instagram account in September 2020 and gaining traction, Robinson said the duo started thinking about how they could turn their hobby into a business and started selling products online two months later. .

“I started doing this as a hobby during lockdown as I had more time, making planters and propagation stations which you can see on our website, like, all of our concrete items are made handmade by us,” Erbe said. “And that’s how we kind of started, selling those items first. And we also just collected a lot of houseplants during the pandemic and also really looked into all the houseplants.

Although they both have degrees in landscape architecture and urban and regional planning from Ohio State, Erbe and Robinson, respectively, didn’t cross paths until a fateful Tinder match, Erbe said.

Once they learned they were both on track to graduate from the Knowlton School of Architecture a year apart, Erbe said, they officially met. As the similarities in their interests emerged, a romance developed.

“So it all kind of fell into place,” Erbe said of her more than five-year partnership — both in business and romance — with Robinson.

Since opening their first physical retail store five months ago, Erbe said The Plant Gays have been able to sell a wider range of items and the move to the Eastern market has brought more visibility. to the company.

“I just like being in the store and seeing people’s faces,” Erbe said. “I feel like plants make people happy and can be therapeutic and a good hobby for a lot of people.”

Robinson, who works full-time as an interior designer for a furniture company, said he often hears customers express their desire for a plant store that provides planting advice or plant-related services, such as repotting.

“We’ve heard a lot from customers and people who buy from us that there’s basically a lack of market that offers in-home consultation, especially for plants,” Robinson said. “And with plants, there has been such demand over the last year, especially from the pandemic. So we feel like we’re reaching a market that hasn’t been tapped yet, which is really exciting.

Now that their retail store is up and running, Robinson said the duo are looking forward to expanding to more people.

“Since we had time to settle in our first location, we’re excited to kind of go back to market parameters, because I feel like we can reach a wide range of different communities,” said said Robinson.

The Plant Gays are preparing for their appearance at the Columbus Coffee Festival where they partnered with the festival to pot succulents and other plants in the festival’s trademark mugs years before selling them to customers, Erbe said. .

Robinson said plants aren’t as intimidating and more relaxing than many people think.

“For a lot of people, plants can be very intimidating,” Robinson said. “Just for me, it’s helped relieve a lot of anxiety, just having that kind of organic element in our space. But for me, it’s kind of like a paradigm shift – it’s not as daunting as people think, and it can be really manageable. But I think a lot of people just need that kind of expertise to help them navigate their day-to-day with their plants.”

The Plant Gays booth will be set up at the Columbus Coffee Festival on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information about the event and buying tickets can be found on the event

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