Winter wonderland by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

A magical experience awaits shoppers who visit the Urban Gardener during the holiday season!  The Memphis garden décor shop is enchanting throughout the year, but when the “season to be jolly” rolls   around, it becomes a captivating winter wonderland.

Ornaments, wreaths and table top décor flow from shelves, walls, trees and ceiling. Every square inch of the urban gift shop is filled with inventive holiday décor during November and December, and the colorful displays are beautifully arranged to create a bewitching celebration of the season. There are limitless opportunities for decorating or holiday gift giving, and the shop continues to offer the less holiday oriented items like wind chimes, garden chairs, garden tools, hats and planters.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

An unexpected, but resolute decision to open the Urban Gardener came about during a chance meeting in the mid-nineties.  Allison Clark and Jen Jordon Smith met while both were volunteering at the Southern Living Idea House, where they became fast friends.  The new friends discussed their mutual desire to open a retail business, and when Allison suggested they partner in that endeavor, Jen didn’t even want to take time to think it over, but immediately responded with a resounding “yes!”  Proof that opposites attract is evidenced by the triumph of the business and the growth of a beautiful friendship.

Right brain and left brain joined forces to manage the charming shop creatively, efficiently and cheerfully.  Jen thrives on decorating the shop throughout the year and working with customers, and her skill sometimes takes her into the customer’s home to decorate for the holidays, or to consult on design ideas for their garden or home.  While Allison also loves working with their customers, she is the “numbers” person, and is happiest being in the background doing the unseen financial and organizational end of the business.  Although each is capable of performing all aspects of the business, they are perfectly suited to their individual roles, and so have created an extraordinary and unusual partnership.

A passion for gardening was at the heart of the original business, but the focus has evolved over the course of 17 successful years. In the beginning the shop sold live plants, mostly indoor, but Allison and Jen quickly realized that they would need to be either a nursery or a garden shop, but not both. The shop began to be more focused on indoor/outdoor garden inspired decorative items, and they gradually added jewelry and more interior design oriented elements.  They experience an incredibly busy May and June, and in the last 10 years they’ve turned the shop into a spectacular November/December “Holiday Event!”

“We love the domino effect of owning a local business.”

Come On In by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Everyone they knew or didn’t know advised the partners against the spot they chose to open the shop, but their intuition told them they had chosen the right location.  The Urban Gardner was the shining star in the neighborhood for a while, but gradually the area began to grow around the artistic shop, until it is now teaming with vital businesses. Situated in the heart of East Memphis, the shop is actually perfectly located and accessible from all points in the Metropolitan area, and at this time, the “girls” have no intention of relocating or even expanding.  “They don’t want to lose the magic!”

“Nobody comes in because they need something. They come in because they want something, and so they’re always happy.” Those “happy” customers have likely been attracted by the enthusiasm that radiates from the shop owners who adore what they do. Accompanied daily by Jen’s dog Jordie, Jen Jordon Smith and Allison Clark have “created an enviable life for themselves, making a living doing what they love, while being around beautiful things and beautiful people, and each sharing the experience with their best friend.” It’s the Holidays year-round at the Urban Gardener!

Outside Urban Gardner by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter