Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Leeds-based Anna Garbutt worked as a personal trainer at Implexus, a gym owned and run by Leeds Rhinos Strength and Conditioner Ian Kirke, and former Leeds Rhino Mitch Achurch.
When COVID-19 hit and gyms were forced to close, Anna, like so many others, found herself unable to work. Instead, she spent much of the first COVID-19 lockdown making the most of the lovely weather by spending lots of time in her garden.
During the early lockdowns, Anna had an idea. Frustrated by the shortage of plants, compost and other gardening materials, and hearing from others who had similar frustrations, Anna looked into sourcing her own garden supplies from wholesalers. To help others get their hands on plants and materials, Anna ran a series of house plant pop up shops at Implexus during early summer 2020. The popularity of those pop ups gave Anna the confidence to open a small retail store in Armley. Anna named the store ‘Poppy’s Potting Shed’ after her niece, who loved to water plants in the garden.
Despite having no previous experience in managing a shop or even in working in retail, Poppy’s Potting Shed did brilliantly. Working on a ‘what would I want to see/buy?’ approach, Anna marketed her store on social media, soon becoming inundated with people wanting to buy plants and pots from her small store. Whilst things weren’t always easy, particularly because of having to negotiate the changing circumstances around COVID-19 and the resultant local lockdowns, Anna continued to do well. She made the most of social media, sharing weekly shop tours on Instagram and offering a weekend click and collect service whereby people would have 10 minute slots to pop into the shop to collect their goods. Anna said that some weekends she would be flat out serving customers from 10 until 4.
Following the success of the Armley store and bursting with confidence that Poppy’s Potting Shed would continue to succeed, this summer Anna saw a retail unit become available at Burley Place and leaped at the chance to expand. The unit is 1000 square feet in size, which is at least four times the size of Anna’s Armley store, and it has parking outside, giving Anna the opportunity to serve even more people.
The Kirkstall Road store, which Anna has been working hard to convert into a plant paradise, opened on 13 November. The opening of the larger store marks almost 18 months since Anna first launched Poppy’s Potting Shed in Leeds. Anna is excited to see what the public thinks of the new space and is looking forward to continuing her journey in a larger space.
Anna has lots of plans for the future of Poppy’s Potting Shed, including evening social events, weekend craft and plant workshops – such as making terrariums and learning how to care for plants – and a membership club with discounts and special prosecco nights. To enable those plans to become a reality, she is currently recruiting staff, mainly advertising opportunities via social media. Check out Poppy’s Potting Shed on social media for more information about job openings and to apply. Anna also recently rebranded and is currently working on developing a new website, which she plans to launch before the new year. When this new site launches, it will give Anna the opportunity not only to share updates more easily, but will also enable her to deliver her plants nationwide, a prospect that seems brilliant and will ensure that people all over the UK are able to enjoy Poppy’s Potting Shed plants and pots.
Monday 11 – 6, Tuesday and Wednesday Closed, Thursday 3 – 8 and Friday – Sunday 11 – 4.