There are few things more delightful to a city-dweller than discovering a block filled with greenery. Walking past Plant Shed is like entering a little patch of jungle, where herbs, plants, and flowers tower on either side of the entrance way. The family-owned business first opened around the corner from their current location in 1965. Since moving to West 96th Street in 1985, Plant Shed has grown to become one of the largest flower shops in Manhattan.
Eric Mourkakos is the grandson of the original owner, making him the third generation of this Upper West Side staple. Over fifty years ago, his family was inspired to start a flower shop out of their love of gardening in the plot behind their home. Immediately upon opening, Plant Shed’s business began to take off. Nieces, nephews, sons and others have worked here over the years, keeping the flower tradition alive and well in their family. I spoke with Jay Casiano, the director of operations, who explained that the floral industry also runs in his family. He has an extensive garden in his own backyard and is passing on his love of flowers to his son. “We all love flowers,” explained Jay. “It’s one of the many things that keeps the staff at Plant Shed so unified.”
Plant Shed runs quite an extensive and busy operation. They send out 100-150 deliveries each day throughout Manhattan. Every week, they sell close to 400 orchids alone. They have an enormous online presence and their flowers are constantly changing based on the season and the market. They buy from farms in Ecuador, Colombia, and Holland, as well as from some local vendors around the New York City area. Their busiest times are during holidays. “The fun times are the most hectic. We are geared for war, so to speak. Valentine’s week is amazing for us because we become united and we get to work as one big team. Everyone is here, every hour of the week,” Jay said. The month of December is also incredibly busy. They display their Christmas trees on the side of the street and greet the families who keep coming back, year after year. Their store front Christmas trees were even famously featured in the film When Harry Met Sally.
Despite their large size, Plant Shed is truly a neighborhood place at heart. They have a list of 9500 regulars who come in multiple times throughout the year. They are proud of the fact that they have been able to stay in the same location all these years. With a green house in the middle of Manhattan, there are few other places like Plant Shed in the city. While the business is constantly evolving, the core of who they are stays the same. As Jay stated, “our business starts and ends with our customers.” Plant Shed puts a lot of focus on service to ensure that everyone who enters the store is greeted with a smile. “If somebody wants something, we make it happen, so long as it’s legal,” Jay added, grinning.