More Newport News: Soap Store and Hydroponics

by on July 9, 2010 · 6 comments

in Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach

PineTree_SoapShop

Inside the Pine Tree Road Soap store. (Photos by Brenda McFarlane)

It smells good for success at the Pine Tree Road Soap Shop

Having a passion for her products is an understatement when it comes to describing Jackie, the owner of the new Pine Tree Road Soap Shop. Jackie has always enjoyed doing crafts and making things but they were just hobbies until she found her calling in the art of crafting soap, lotions and body potions. Now she attends soap conventions, is a member of Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild and runs her own soap shop.

Five and a half years ago she moved to OB from Colorado wanting to be near her Mom in La Mesa. With two dogs and a cat, OB’s dog-friendliness is what first attracted her to our part of town but she quickly fell in love with everything OB. Once she decided to open a store, it took her almost a year to find the perfect spot. She was only interested in opening a store in OB because we needed a hand crafted soap shop and she wanted to work here. It’s one of three of the new spaces created from the old Ocean Beach Surf Shop which moved across the street.

While she was learning her craft, she held a regular job and slowly began to develop her soap business. Once she opened, she tried to hold on to the security of having a job while running her store but she found she wasn’t able to manage the store the way she felt it needed to be run plus she hated to hear anyone tell her they came by the store and it was closed. She consulted her heart (and her Mom) and both told her to take the leap and commit fully to her dream. She quit her job and now she spends most of her days at the store which also serves as her soap making workshop and her office for her mail order.

As I chat with Jackie, a man and woman from Minnesota browse Jackie’s pretty displays and examine the array of alluring bottles and jars. They seem in no rush to decide on a purchase, which is understandable since the shop is lovely with the sun sparkling in every corner and the smell of herbs and flowers performing their calming and refreshing influence.

Jackie is a busy woman and isn’t relying solely on the store to keep her afloat. She has an online store at etsy.com, a web community to buy and sell handmade products from around the world; she also sells on ebay, and is busy with creating special wedding and party favors. She also takes custom orders from people seeking products made from specific herbs, flowers or ingredients.

GreenLadyFrontOPTPassion and Hydroponics Promise Growth for Greenlady

Like Jackie at the Pine Tree Road Soap Shop, the co-owners of the new Greenlady Hydroponics, are passionate about their product. It’s a good thing because, as every successful small store owners knows, a shop is a demanding mistress.

Anyone who thinks they can set up a store and hand it off to employees will not be able to compete with the likes David and Travis. Best friends and now co-owners of their large shop full of indoor and outdoor hydroponic and organic gardening supplies, they make a formidable team with David as the indoor gardening specialist and Travis handling all things mechanical and technical. My visit coincides with one of the few times when only one of them, David is there.

“Travis”, David tells me “is spending some time with his family.” Somehow I get the sense this has been all too infrequent of late and I’d be right. David tells me neither of them have had a full day off in 75 days straight and they are both putting in 70 hours every week, together. They both need the other’s expertise to fulfill their mandate of providing the best service to their customers in the city. David tells me Travis is the technical guy while David is the in-door gardening specialist.

Before starting the business, David worked for Best Coast Growers for 4-5 years. He tells me his work took him into every hydroponic store in Nevada, California and Arizona. This experience has proven invaluable to launching this business. Their customers, he tells me, are mostly San Diegans but they get a lot of tourists who are in-door gardeners who are seeking new or additional products to supplement their supplies.

I love the Greenlady logo and storefront and ask about the name. David, a handsome young man whose significant biceps are tastefully patterned wth ink leaning to a tribal motif I’m guessing but, frightened of being labeled a cougar, I don’t want to visually linger on his arms. He tells me the name refers to mother earth and somehow this is very charming coming from such a man’s man.

David and Travis are eager to get their e commerce site up but are most focused, for now, on the store. Sales have been great, Dave tells me, but the pair are re-investing any profit they make back into the store . It’s important to them to have plenty of product and choice for their customers. They hope to begin paying off the private loan they took from an investor to open the store.

If my tour today has taught me anything, I’ve learned the importance of the lease to a shopkeeper’s health and longevity. One of the most stressful aspects of opening up a store is the signing of the lease. Most landlords require a lease duration of 3 to 5 years with no way to get out of it if your store is a flop. If you can find someone willing to offer you a shorter lease it will likely cost more to rent. Either way, opening a store is a risky business and an act of faith. David and Travis have a lot of faith in their business, the market, and OB as they’ve signed up for a 5 year lease.

If you want to know more about starting a hydroponics garden, stop by and pick up a book from David and Travis. Greenlady Hydroponics.4879 Newport Ave. 619-222-5011.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar doug porter July 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

thanks for keeping us up to date on the “Newport News” in our community. It’s good to know that there are other things going on beyond “bums” and “bathrooms”.

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avatar Abby July 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I’ve bought some stuff from Pine Tree Road, not only is the quality wonderful, but the prices are very reasonable.

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avatar Jon July 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm

My wife and I have bought soap from her. Whenever we have guests, they always comment on how much they like our soap. It’s definitely good stuff.

Thanks for sharing the Newport News with us Brenda.

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avatar Seth July 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Had the pleasure of meeting all these folks collecting signatures for the OBPB. They are all really cool and wish them the best of luck with these new businesses. Great additions to the neighborhood, and they really capture the spirit of OB.

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avatar Gary Gilmore July 10, 2010 at 8:41 am

Hey Brenda, terrific report. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and shaking hands with both of the interviewees but, didn’t learn as much about them as I just did by reading your article. I love being a part of a little town where you can open an eclectic shop and not have to cater solely to tourists (nothing wrong with tourists). It’s the locals that are the bread and butter of these small businesses. That’s very healthy. Nice article.

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avatar Hydroponic Tents August 6, 2010 at 4:45 am

Its amazing………..thanx for sharing such an interesting info……….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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