Fern Houseplants

Abbie Kennedy and her dog, Oso, stand for a photo in Kennedy's new store, Fern Houseplants on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, on East Main Street. Kennedy opened the shop two weeks ago and said she's been surprised at the positive response.

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Abbie Kennedy got her first houseplant, a pothos — a common vine often called devil’s ivy for how quickly it grows — about six years ago.

“I loved it,” Kennedy said. Her cat, Almond, did too. “My cat ate it. Shredded it to pieces.”

Despite its grisly end, her first plant marked the beginning of an obsession for Kennedy. It’s now led to her opening her very own store to share her passion with others.

Two weeks ago, she opened her store, Fern Houseplants, on the east end of Bozeman selling plants — from fiddle-leaf figs to monsteras — to pots and other plant supplies.

Fern, at 1205 E. Main St., is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

“Once I got into houseplants, it’s like once you start you can’t stop,” she said. “Plants liven up a space. I get excited when they put out a new leaf.”

Kennedy, 23, moved to Bozeman in 2015 to attend Montana State University. Originally from Martinez, California, she graduated this spring with a degree in fish and wildlife ecology.

She got the idea to open the store out of “personal frustration” with how few local places there were to buy houseplants.

“Whenever I visit somewhere, if there’s a houseplant store, I always go in. There’s just not a ton of options here,” she said.

With few options, people resort to ordering specific plants online. But, especially in the winter, that can mean plants arrive in the mail damaged or even dead, she said.

For now, the business is run solely by Kennedy, with the help of her “shop dog,” a border collie named Oso.

The store has about 30 different types of houseplants, ranging from succulents, to ferns and hoya plants. Kennedy does frequently restock her store with new types of houseplants to keep a wide variety available.

Fern — the name is a nod to her favorite plant and common flora in the Redwood Forests where she grew up — is just a one-room store.

Eventually Kennedy hopes to open the rest of the building, which she leases, to have a wider selection of fauna, including ordering rare or harder-to-find plants.

She also wants to partner with local ceramic artists to stock locally made pots and is still tossing around some other ideas to expand the offerings in her store.

As a recent college graduate, Kennedy said she wasn’t prepared for how much work being a small business owner is.

“It’s so much more work than I could have ever imaged, I have so much more respect for small business owners, and business owners of any kind,” she said.

Her parents own a small business, so Kennedy grew up learning some aspects of business ownership, but “it’s so much more work than I could have ever imagined,” Kennedy said.

“I didn’t fully grasp that the time that you’re open is not the only time you’re working. It extends to all hours of the day,” Kennedy said.

The store has been open for a few weeks now, and it’s been busy but “it’s very rewarding.”

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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