Plant shop puts down roots in Colfax

Andrew Stewart, left, and Dominic Villareal own A Modern Plantsman in Colfax. The plant shop hosted its grand opening Friday.

The long, unlikely path that led to a new plant shop in Colfax started in, of all places, Los Angeles.

Dominic Villareal, 29, and Andrew Stewart, 31, met while studying fashion design in L.A. and developed a love for collecting plants.

When Stewart wanted to live closer to his family in the Northwest, they moved to Spokane, where they built an indoor greenhouse in their old, frigid home to keep their plants alive during the cold months.

Villareal quit his tech job at Apple, Stewart enrolled at Washington State University to study microbiology and they packed up their plants to head to the Palouse to chase their dream of owning their own plant shop.

In February, Villareal and Stewart made that dream a reality with a soft opening of their business, A Modern Plantsman, at 105 E. Canyon Street.

On Friday, they celebrated their grand opening.

“It’s just been a really exciting endeavor for us,” Villareal said.

The small shop is filled to the brim with a wide array of tropical house plants displayed on furniture the owners built themselves.

Many of the plants came from their own personal collection over the years. Villareal said being a relatively small business allows them to specialize in plants, which they will travel around the Northwest to attain.

He said A Modern Plantsman offers more diversity in plants than other businesses around the region.

The owners envision the place to not just be a store, but a hub for the local plant-loving community that could serve as the center for plant clubs and plant swaps.

What started as a hobby while living in Los Angeles became a pursuit when Villareal came across a plant shop in Phoenix.

“I walked into a plant shop and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do this,’ ” he said.

Villareal called A Modern Planstman a passion project.

While it was a risk to quit his job at Apple and settle in Colfax two years ago, he said he was no longer satisfied with working for someone else and set out to do what he enjoyed.

Andrew said they learned through years of experience and trial and error.

They started by buying cheap plants and then figuring out how to revive them.

While living in Spokane, they made the mistake of leaving their plants out on the patio when an unexpected freeze came along and killed their collection.

So, they learned how to build a greenhouse with PVC pipe.

They said if people knew how many plants they have killed over the years, people would understand that the concept of having a “green thumb” is a myth. Instead, they said, persistence is the key to growing healthy plants.

“You just have to be stubborn,” Stewart said.

A Modern Plantsman’s grand opening event will continue through Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Stewart said the local community has already made the new business feel welcome.

“Everyone’s just been really supportive,” he said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to

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