Local business sprouts up amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Rock n’ Roots Plant Co., a small business located in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, is a plant and mineral shop that was created in the wake of COVID-19.  

Business owner Nicole Saenz said her shop has persisted since she began operating in 2020 and the conditions of the pandemic were crucial to its creation.  

“If there was no pandemic, this would not have come to fruition,” she said.  

Since she was a non-essential worker at the time, Saenz said she was unemployed for four months once the pandemic began. As a dental hygienist, she said her industry was heavily impacted. 

Saenz said she had the idea for the business prior to the pandemic, but the conditions of it pushed her to go through with it. She said she began her business by setting up as a vendor at craft shows while also selling plants online. Then, once she decided to open her first brick-and-mortar store there was enough demand.  

Even with her current store, Saenz said she still does mobile events.  

Sally Z. Hare, professor emerita at Coastal Carolina University, said she first saw an ad of Saenz on Facebook. 

“Before she had a business, she operated out of a golf cart,” she said. “That’s how I found her.” 

Hare said she would call Saenz and find out what times she would be selling at a nearby gas station. She said she was drawn to her business at the time due to the circumstances of the pandemic. 

“Most of the stores were closed,” Hare said. “There wasn’t any place to go to, so it just felt safe to be outside with the golf cart.” 

When Saenz created the store at its first location, Hare said she would visit at least once a month. She said she likes to create fairy gardens as gifts, and she loves visiting her store to buy plants for them. 

Hare said Rock n’ Roots has turned out to be quite popular and she’s even recommended the store to many of her friends. She also said she took her sisters and nephews there for a visit to make terrariums.  

“One of the things that I love is that it appeals to all ages,” Hare said.  

Saenz also runs Rock n’ Roots with her husband and her mother-in-law, Pam Vogel. Vogel is the store’s general manager and she attested to the variety of age groups that visit. 

“One of the biggest groups is high school and college students,” Vogel said.  

As many businesses seemed to struggle with the effects of the pandemic, Rock n’ Roots grew despite them. Saenz speculated that people being kept from going outdoors might’ve contributed to this. 

Saenz also said she believes there are mental health benefits too, as her business comes with a twist. In addition to selling a variety of plants and accessories, they also host workshops. These range from public classes, private parties, and walk-ins. Here customers can learn how to make custom plant arrangements.  

“It’s not just a regular plant store,” Saenz said. “It’s more of an experience.” 

Hare remarked on this as well and said how she finds making arrangements relaxing. 

“There’s something about plants that’s just very therapeutic,” she said.  

As of now, Saenz is operating her store out of a new building adjacent to where she opened her previous store. Here, she’s been able to utilize more space and as she grows her business, she tries to support other local shops as well.  

“If it’s locally based,” she said, “you’re not only helping the local economy, but also supporting the community.”