Johanna C. Dominguez comes from a family of farmers. To this day, that background has had impactful bearings on her life’s journey. From growing fruit trees in her backyard to working with Buffalo’s urban farmers, Dominguez has become deeply rooted in the ever-growing plant community. It was while working at Urban Roots that she began to hatch her plans to open up a plant and garden shop called Put A Plant On It. She says that she came up with the name because everything at the shop will either be a plant (40%) or be merchandise with a plant on it (60%).
During a Zoom call, Dominguez explained to me that she saw a window of opportunity for her to open a plant emporium on Elmwood Avenue. In recent years, the village’s preferred plant and flower shop went out of business, which she felt was a real opportunity.
Then the pandemic struck, and at first she figured that she would shelve her plans for a year. But as luck would have it, the perfect storefront presented itself – the site of Yotality (715 Elmwood Avenue), which is now going out of business. Viewing it as a prime location that she didn’t want to see slip through her fingers, Dominguez decided to make a move. She told me that she felt that the timing was actually right, and that village residents would rally behind a business actually opening, instead of closing due to the pandemic.
“I’ve already formed relationships with local growers for cut flowers,” Dominguez told me. “I’m also going to have a potting station where people can pot their plants themselves, or we will do it for them. Then there will be educational classes on how to keep plants alive, for example. There will also be a residential ‘plantscaping’ element where we will help people with their plants at home. I’ve talked to a lot of different people, and everyone says that Elmwood needs a plant shop. I will offer a lot of plants that people have a hard time getting locally. It’s my turn to give back to Buffalo, and share my passion with others. At this time, this is an offering of hope and good news.”
Dominguez’s own garden was featured in Fine Gardening magazine.
Dominguez and I talked about the pandemic, of course, but not about all of the hardships that it was causing. Instead we focused our conversation on some of the good that was coming out of it. For example, a lot of people are talking more about supporting local businesses, when they are able. Others are picking up hobbies for the first time. There are life lessons being learned, people teaching others, and interests being shared. One of the personal pursuits that lots of people are picking up is gardening, both indoors and outdoors. Plants are alive… at a time when life is fragile, it’s important to surround ourselves with these living things that grow and blossom.
At a time when we have all been stuck at home, relegated to playing and working on your computers, for the most part, it’s refreshing news to hear that life goes on, with news of a business opening on Elmwood. Dominguez is hoping that she will be able to open sometime in July, but she understands that that will all depend on New York State’s phased reopening. In the meantime, you are welcome to tune into her YouTube channel, as well as her shop’s Instagram page. You can also find her latest plant pursuits on Facebook.