Local Business Spotlight: Seed to Stem transplanting to Canal District

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When you’re out shopping this summer in hopes of finding a decorative bobcat or camel skull, a deer head to hang on your wall, or a venus flytrap and insect marbles, you may find that your usual spot to grab this sort of thing has up and moved.

After four years on Shrewsbury Street, unique florist and gift shop Seed to Stem is moving this summer to Crompton Place on Green Street. An Aug. 6 opening is planned.

With what they say is tens of thousands of items in inventory, the proprietors of Seed to Stem required a larger footprint to showcase their terrariums, botanicals, antiquities and all the other gift items for sale in their store.

Candace Atchue, left, and Virginia Orlando, owners of Seed to Stem, which is on the move to Crompton Place.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Candace Atchue, left, and Virginia Orlando, owners of Seed to Stem, which is on the move to Crompton Place.

Co-owners Virginia Orlando and Candace Atchue opened the store next to East Park about four years ago, and they said they’ve known for about two years a move was in the offing.

“We needed more space. The back room here (Shrewsbury Street) isn’t big enough. The Canal District community is growing rapidly and we’ve always been fans of Crompton Place. It’s a real destination community,” Orlando said.

Seed to Stem will close its 174 Shrewsbury St. storefront sometime in mid-June. They will reopen their store in Suite No. 1 at the 138 Green St. collective.

“There will certainly be more foot traffic (at Crompton Place). That’s one of the main things we discussed,” Atchue said. “And a lot of our regulars told us they would follow us there and we’re confident they will.”

Seed to Stem is moving from its East Park-adjacent home base to the Canal District.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Seed to Stem is moving from its East Park-adjacent home base to the Canal District.

In fact, according to Atchue and Orlando, many of their regular customers come into their shop once or twice a week to check out any additions to their inventory, and many customers even followed them out to the well-known Brimfield Flea Market two weeks ago.

(Seed to Stem will return to Brimfield for the July 12-17 and Sept. 6-11 sessions.)

“Brimfield has exposed us to a huge number of people which has increased our business dramatically,” Atchue said. “It is a great way to get our name out to so many more people than we normally would. Spending the week at Brimfield is an adventure in itself and we look forward to being there in July.”

The co-owners, presently the store’s only employees, are hoping to hire a few additional employees once they complete the move.

“We are both equally stylist and business oriented, each taking on certain tasks on the business side. We both design all of the terrariums and planters in the shop, as well as do all of the displays, and merchandising together,” Orlando said. “In the future we are hoping to hire someone to take on more business oriented tasks so we can focus wholly on design and product sourcing.”

Amy Lynn Chase, owner of Crompton Collective located in Crompton Place, is excited about the addition of Seed to Stem and looks forward to it joining the community of other small businesses.

She said, “I think what Seed to Stem will bring, which I’m excited about, is that it will add a beautiful element to the building. It’s just another layer of good, quality business.”

Crompton Place, the new home of Seed to Stem

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Crompton Place, the new home of Seed to Stem

Chase opened her business on Sept. 1, 2012, and is now joined at Crompton Place by BirchTree Bread Company, El Patron Mexican Restaurant, antique shop Birch Alley, Alexis Grace Consignment Boutique, Michaelangelo’s barbershop and Salon Nina Raffaella.

“I think it’s so important when the businesses are so close together that they share a clientele. We all share a customer that appreciates unique things and things that you can’t get at a traditional mall. I think Seed to Stem’s customers are the perfect fit for our customer — they’re looking for something special and unique that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Chase, of Worcester and a graduate of Worcester Technical High School.

Chase added that Seed to Stem would be the preferred floral vendor for functions in Crompton Collective’s White Room, a 5,000-square-foot function hall that accommodates up to 200 people.

Atchue and Orlando both found their love for plant life at Plant Bazaar in Westborough, where they worked together for three years. Plant Bazaar is owned by Orlando’s mother, Melissa Orlando.

Seed to Stem offers an eclectic mix of gifts, decor and nature-themed items.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Seed to Stem offers an eclectic mix of gifts, decor and nature-themed items.

The skulls Seed to Stem use are purchased from antique stores and estate sales. Others are purchased from companies that specialize in cleaning skulls leftover from the food industry or culling programs.

“We started planting inside of seashells, skulls and other unique items because they make beautiful natural vessels,” Atchue said. “We also are attracted to the juxtaposition between living plants and the sculptural non-living elements.”

Both Atchue and Orlando enjoy spending time outdoors including hiking, foraging and beachcombing. Orlando spent a semester studying outdoor leadership at the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School.

Orlando, of Westborough and a graduate of Westborough High, and Atchue, of Grafton and a Grafton High grad, learned the ins and outs of unique floral design together and began making terrariums to sell at craft shows.

“We always went antiquing and gardening together, and [eventually] it just seemed like the right time for us to open our own store,” Orlando said.

seed to stem_flowersIn addition to offering a wide swath of unusual items — including geodes, sea urchin shells, and a variety of Moon Rivers Naturals brand soaps and lip balms — Seed to Stem offers floral design and styling for weddings and other events.

For weddings, Seed to Stem will set an entire floral scene, from bridal and bridesmaid bouquets to centerpieces and corsages. Orlando and Atchue work with each client personally to ensure quality. Full wedding packages start at $3,000.

Seed to Stem’s hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The store is currently located next to Just Paint and borders Cristoforo Colombo Park (East Park). Hours of operation will remain the same Monday through Saturday at their new location at Crompton Collective. The owners anticipate an earlier opening time for Sundays.

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