HINTON, W.Va. — You might not think a West Virginia town of fewer than 3,000 residents would be the ideal location for a booming tropical plant store.
But then, you might not have met its owners or visited the southern reaches of America's newest national park where nothing ordinary is happening.
Botany Tropicals, owned by Jordan Casey and Steven Jones, has been named "2022 Small Business Startup of the Year" by the West Virginia Hive, an entrepreneurship program based in southern West Virginia.
Judy Moore, executive director of the West Virginia Hive and deputy director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, said the duo had set the bar for enterprises associated with her organization.
“Innovation, response to adversity, and measurable accomplishments are key criteria businesses must meet to earn this recognition,” Moore said. “Jordan and Steven have met and exceeded all expectations in these objectives.”
Botany Tropicals offers a fun, unique plant shop with personal, one-of-a-kind, interactive experiences, Moore said. Customers may dive hands-first into the dirt to build terrariums, attend plant parties, and find the best houseplants for their homes.
The newest addition to the Botany Tropicals offerings is an innovative service called Plant 911. This service will launch early in 2023 and feature a complete rescue package to help revive and restore sick plants.
A lighting assessment will also assist with plant selection and placement. The Plant 911 service won the STEM award in the Pitch Southern W.Va. small business competition held at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in September 2022.
Botany Tropicals was one of six businesses that pitched ideas to judges, and it also won the third-place prize in the overall competition. The business is also one of the most recent enterprises in West Virginia that are promoting gender and sexual inclusivity in Appalachia.
"Y’all means ALL," Jones and Casey express on the store's homepage.
"As openly gay men in a small town, we both have been the victims of discrimination and understand the social anxiety that comes with not feeling welcomed or accepted in public places. Therefore, we strive to create a safe space where all are welcome."
Hinton is located at the southern end of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the newest national park in the U.S., and is home to a thriving national historic district now undergoing an economic boom.
Botany Tropicals has also applied and been approved for the organization's technical assistance to create a logo, promotional video, and website. It helped Casey and Jones develop a business plan and financial projections, hire their first employee, and learn how to operate a business, Moore said.
The W.Va. Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the development authority. Its 13-county service area includes Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Logan, and Mingo counties.
Botany Tropicals at 321 3rd Avenue in Hinton. For more information, call BotanyTropicals.com.visit