Air Plants and Orchids and Ferns, Oh My!

Last semester, Hamilton, N.Y. got a little more colorful with the addition of Rainbow Cupboard on Lebanon Street, a bright shop specializing in air plants and accessories. This fall, the empty storefront next to Maxwell’s Chocolates & Ice Cream on Utica Street was filled with The House Plant Co., another shop offering plants and other merchandise for the botanically inclined.

As the Rainbow Cupboard expands and The House Plant Co. settles into its new storefront, the Colgate campus has gotten much greener. Jadan Hand, a sophomore at Colgate, thinks that the stores have been great additions to the Colgate community. 

“I think it’s made being able to have plants in your dorm room more accessible, especially for a campus where some people are traveling really far distances … when transporting plants really isn’t a feasible option,” Hand said. “Being able to come here and buy them from small local businesses and not from chains like Price Chopper I think is really good and makes this kind of indoor living greenspace really accessible.”

The Rainbow Cupboard on Lebanon Street is the shop’s second location, with the first being located in Clinton, N.Y., close to Hamilton College. The shop is owned and operated by one family that splits their time between the two locations, and while the shop’s inventory is enough to bring in students, the kind owners are what keep them coming back. 

Sophomore Gretchen Mueller said, “I think that everyone I’ve talked to about Rainbow Cupboard has agreed with me that its owners are some of the nicest people. It creates such a comfortable and welcoming environment as soon as you step into the store! I felt really comfortable asking any questions I needed to ask, and I felt that I genuinely had a great time in the store simply speaking to the owners because they are such lovely people.” 

Mueller said that, “The owners are super knowledgeable about all of their plants, so they’re really helpful and you can learn something from them no matter your experience level with plants.”

While the new shops are popular among Colgate students because of their products and ambiance, sophomore Emily Schreurs sees a benefit from the shops besides the easy access to plants. 

“It also helped to foster a greater community between Hamilton and Colgate because a bunch of Colgate students are now coming to Hamilton to buy plants since plants are becoming a big thing among our generation,” Schreurs said.

The House Plant Co. opened to a resounding success, their first day coinciding with the arrival of new students on campus. Owned and operated by a graduate from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, the business was recruited by the Hamilton Initiative, a local property management firm, to fill the niche of a florist in town. The excitement surrounding the shop’s opening and the great business they’ve had since is a reflection of Colgate students’ passion for plants. Especially in a village like Hamilton that doesn’t have greenery for a large portion of the year, maintaining plants indoors is a way to boost mood as well as liven up your living space. 

Mueller said, “It removes the all too familiar sense of ennui from a dorm room.” 

At a school with many students traveling from across the country as well as internationally, transporting plants from home isn’t always the most feasible option. Taking care of plants, however, brings comfort to many people, which is especially important on a campus full of stressed, busy students. Owning plants has been shown to reduce stress and improve air quality (according to Healthline), making their popularity among students one of the healthiest trends to sweep campus yet. 

Schreurs says, “[Owning plants] helps me establish a routine and feel like I’m caring for something else than myself,” and as the semester ramps up quickly, this feeling of responsibility is appealing to many students. 

Rainbow Cupboard is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The House Plant Co. is open Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7p.m.