MASSILLON, Ohio — Justin Lepley, 25, says he’s always been enamored with tropical plants and flowers.
“I’ve enjoyed plants and things like that since I was a kid. I worked at a pet shop when I was younger from the time I was a teenager all the way through undergrad and one of my favorite things there is working with the ponds and the pond plants.”
His love for plants led him to start selling some outside of his home at the beginning of the pandemic, all while he was finishing school at Case Western Reserve University
“After a few months of getting different and interesting plants that I thought were cool, I had people driving down from Toledo, from the PA border and other places to get different and cool tropical plants they couldn’t find around them,” Lepley explained.
There bloomed an idea for a business. Justin opened his first plant store, Lepley & Co in Akron.
Now, he’s just days away from the grand opening of his second plant store in Massillion. “By far the vast majority of people who have come in and come to me and I’ve connected with are new plant parents and their collection or hobby or however you would like to phrase it really started during COVID. We are all locked inside and socially distancing.”
Plants arent the only focus of Lepley & Co. Justin hopes to create an environment that will be a space for all to gather and even grab a cup of coffee.
Inside his shop in Massillion, he has created an LGBTQ+ community resource space.
“I really want this to be a safe and inclusive space, kind of at it’s core. I just want somewhere where young people or anyone can come and just know that they are welcomed.”
The public grand opening for the Lepley & Co. will be in Massillion will be this Saturday.
The opening comes as business owners prepare for what may come next week. Gov. Mike DeWine warned some businesses may have to shut down or will have new orders depending on whether or not COVID-19 cases trend downward.
Ohio reported a new record of 7,101 cases on Thursday.