For Katie Spargo, Serpentine Plants + Provisions’ peaceful environment makes for her ideal form of self-care. As a self-described plant lover, the 26-year-old UF doctoral student and mental health counselor — and her dog, Sammie — have made visiting the shop part of their weekly routine.
“It really does brighten my day to go in,” Spargo said. “The whole atmosphere of the place is warm, welcoming [and] inviting, and it’s just a light, happy place to be.”
The shop, located at 209 NW 10th Ave., sells a variety of plants as well as curated homeware and gift products from local, independent retailers.
Serpentine’s brick-and-mortar location opened its doors to the Gainesville community in 2020, but the company’s inception dates back to 2018, when 37-year-old owner Keri Guynn and her husband, Tom, originated the business as a pop-up, predominantly selling vintage homeware.
Plants entered their product mix soon after the couple began to incorporate their own greenery into their market setups and noticed customers were interested in purchasing them.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused Guynn and her husband to lose their day jobs, the couple realized it was time to pivot.
Soon enough, Serpentine’s official website was live. For much of the COVID-19 lockdown, the business offered local delivery to its loyal Gainesville customers.
“That was really kind of a great time because it was super special that we were able to brighten people’s days when they really needed it,” said Guynn.
As avid travelers and small business fanatics, Guynn and her husband decided Gainesville was the perfect place for Serpentine.
Having visited various independent retailers during their travels and witnessed the impact those businesses had on communities, the couple felt they could create that sense of unity in Gainesville with Serpentine.
Following the success of the shop’s online sales, Guynn and her husband eventually set down roots and opened the brick-and-mortar location that exists today.
Jillian Dinius, a 33-year-old Gainesville resident, said she remembers how impressed she was when she first visited Serpentine’s permanent location.
“The vibes and the energy when you walk in the store are not just inviting because of all the plants, but there's also so many unique, artistic trinkets,” Dinius said.
Serpentine’s focus is home design and creating a space for plants and other items that consumers bring into their homes, Guynn said.
“What we wanted to do is just support other small independent makers and artists and just really cultivate conscious consumerism — only offering things that we really think are going to bring joy into people's lives,” Guynn added.
Aside from plants, homeware and gift products, Serpentine also hosts monthly wine tastings and offers a subscription-based wine club.
In collaboration with nearby breakfast and brunch spot Afternoon, the restaurant’s owner curates a selection of natural wines for the shop.
Wine club members get first dibs on a new collection each month and free entry into Serpentine’s monthly wine tastings hosted every first and third Thursday of the month
Centrally located in the shop is yet another one of Serpentine’s unique features: a potting bar.
Offering a range of potting services, Serpentine’s potting bar is where customers can bring in a plant of their own to be potted or receive guidance on a struggling plant. Potting services are free of charge for those who purchase a plant and pot in-store.
After being in business for the last two years, Guynn said the response Serpentine has received from the Gainesville community has been more than she could have anticipated.
For her, what sets Serpentine apart from other local businesses is the experience customers get when they visit the shop.
“We want you to come into the shop and feel inspired of new ways that you can bring plants into your space,” Guynn said.
Contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amandacrubio.
Amanda Rubio is a first-year journalism student at the University of Florida and an Avenue staff writer at the Alligator. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her reading romance novels; binge-watching Glee, which she’s watched an unnecessary amount of times; or somehow finding more ways to make Harry Styles her entire personality.