In the now infamous summer of 2020, Bazx’s new business saw customers lined up at the block.
Saracotta Plants opened its Glendale doors in July, a bold move by its married owners, Sarah and Tadeh. His shop grew out of hard soil – the pandemic closed many small businesses in the summer – but it is still thriving two years later. Now, standing behind the shop’s wooden counter, Bazic answers the big question: How?
Tadeh thinks people need to escape the stress of the pandemic.
“Looking back, I can’t believe this actually happened,” he said, wearing a matching black T-shirt from his wife. “At that time, people were very scared. There was no vaccine, you know, the fact that people would come here was amazing.
Sarah said that attracting customers was never a problem. In the shop’s initial months, the bazaars only let two people in at a time and required masks. They left every night at 10 o’clock, and when they came back in the morning, customers were already waiting outside. Nurses from nearby Adventist Health, still in their scrubs, stopped to pick up the plants.
Although they had customers, the real bottleneck was inventory, Sarah said. They scoured for plants, usually in San Diego, trying to buy enough types to fill their store. The plants would arrive at the distribution centers and sold fresh by truck, and were either grabbed by the hawks or another plant shop. Now it can be difficult to even fill in the inventory, but the store feels full.
Tied between a hair salon and an air duct business, Bazic manages to ventilate a small space. As expected, it is filled with plants, with glass vials on one wall and a white cabinet of rare plants on the other. Then there are Sara and Tadeh, a vibrant couple working hard in the midst of it all. There is only one employee, who runs the counter; Bazik manages everything else. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as they shop for new plants, clean them, add them to the system and take photographs. On Wednesdays, they rest and reopen.
Working together means that Sarah and Tadeh are together “24 hours a day”. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah said, “I’ve been with him since I was 18 and I’ve never been bored with him.” “All my friends are always like, ‘How do you do things with your husband every day?’ I’m like, ‘This is the best!’ I don’t want to work with anyone else. Like I can’t imagine not working with him.”
“Imagine you’re working out with your best friend,” Tadeh said.
Facebook took on the matchmaker role in 2010, when Sarah posted about getting a new phone and asked her friends to send their numbers. He and Tadeh had never met, but he sent her his number nonetheless. They messaged for months, even when Tadeh first visited Armenia and she was still in California.
“Instead of touring the country, I’m talking to her on my laptop at 3 a.m. because I know she’s awake,” said Tadeh, smiling at Sarah. “I fell in love with him even before I met him face-to-face.”
When he returned, they met in person, and years later, Tadeh proposed to visit Sarah’s family in Armenia. Although they planned to wed in late 2020, they spontaneously married in 2019 on a trip to Cancun with friends – before the pandemic hit.
Armenian, Bazik, both found their fluency in the language, particularly in Glendale, which has one of the largest Armenian populations outside Armenia. Sarah observes her passion for plants in her grandmother’s garden in Armenia. Her grandmother would take her through herbs and hoya plants, pointing out each type and how it grew. While her mother’s thumb was black, her grandmother could grow anything.
Tadeh tested whether it runs in the family. Seven years ago, he gave Sarah his first plant: a shiny fiddle-leaf fig. It’s extremely difficult to keep alive, but Sarah turned it into something big and beautiful. Tadeh had unknowingly started a “healthy addiction”. His apartment grew into a forest, with over 100 plants filling all corners.
Sarah recruits not only Tadeh but all of her friends into her plant frenzy, hosting potting parties and handing out plant cuttings. And when her friends encouraged her to start a store, she and Tadeh insisted it was just a hobby — until the pandemic.
As COVID-19 ushered in a new era of outdoor activity, Baziks opted for biking. While driving to buy Sarah a new bike, Tadeh notices a “For Lease” sign – a side effect of his real estate agent’s eyes. They went ahead and bought the bike, but something pulled them to stop at the open space on the way home. The interior was a disaster but Bazic was not surprised.
“We were just looking around, and then I was like, How much is the rent?” Tadeh said. “And she told us and out of nowhere, I looked at Sarah and I was like, ‘You know that thing you’ve always been talking about, about doing a plant shop? Should we do this? ?'”
“And then we were like… well! We literally signed the lease that day,” said Sarah, standing in the same spot (which now shows no sign of the disaster it once was). keep doing and keep waiting, then try to find the right place, as we planned On finding the right place…”
“You’ll never find the right time,” Tadeh concluded.
So they went to work, Tadeh turning his real estate career into a side gig as they both devoted all their time to Saracotta Plants. (The name is a mix of terracotta, her favorite plant pot, and Sarah’s name, which Tadeh jokes sounded better than hers.)
Their home is the store’s prep center. In his home greenhouse, he organizes, filters and cleans everything he has bought for his website, labels and photographs the plants. Their 1-year-old son, Kylo, grows up in the woods of it all. When Bazik brings him to the shop, he searches the area, but doesn’t knock anything up.
He is a particularly peaceful child, which Bazik attributes to the calm environment. “We’re growing him like one of our plants,” laughed Tadeh.
And it’s not just Kylo who is learning to be a plant person. Since its inauguration, Bazico has embarked on a mission to develop everyone’s green thumb. That’s why Sarah loves cuttings—even if a customer accidentally kills a plant, sometimes a piece of it can be saved and a new one can be grown. After all, their main goal is to make everyone a plant person, and two years after opening, they are seeing the fruits of their efforts. Bazic loves when customers become friends and enjoy watching them accompany the flourishing plants they bought in the store’s opening days.
“I think plants are a way for all of us to escape the madness that’s happening out there,” Tadeh said of the shop opening. “And just like on a human level, talk about something completely natural and completely non-pandemic and not about dying and not all negative things. Once you guys are here, forget what is happening there.”
As some pandemic restrictions have eased, Saracotta Plants still stands as a relic of the good that has emerged from a turbulent time. And it remains as an escape for those having a tough day.
Sarah calls two things “to happen”. First: her marriage to Tadeh. And second: opening this plant store.
“How many people we helped plant became friends,” Sarah said. “It’s meeting and talking to new people and making friends, coming to my son’s first birthday party. It’s those original memories I’ll always remember.”
Saracotta Plants, 401 N. Verdugo Road, Suite A, Glendale. Open Wednesday-Friday, -7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. Instagram: www.sarahcottaplants.com,