Eight years ago this month, Susie Turner took a major leap, transforming Green Door Design, her burgeoning home-based interior plant design business, into a retail shop on Flamingo Road in Tam Junction, specializing in custom orchid arrangements, interior plant installations and nature-inspired objects for the home.

Unbeknownst to her (and just about all of us) at the time, the Great Recession began one month later. And just two years after that, DeLano’s IGA Market, the cornerstone business in Tam Junction, shut its doors as part of a mass eviction of the struggling grocery chain. Five years after that, the nearly 24,000-square-foot space remains empty.

But this is not a tale of regret – and definitely not of failure.

Despite a pair of monumental economic obstacles, including quite literally living in the shadow of a massive vacant building, Turner has persevered and survived. Even thrived.

“I’m one of those people that has a lot of confidence when I make a decision,” she says. “I don’t make decisions lightly but once I make them, the self doubt goes away and I just go for it. We were in survival mode for a bit, but I never wavered.”

Turner, an Idaho native who was Smith & Hawken’s national interior plant and orchid buyer for three years in the mid-1990s, didn’t have unfounded confidence. She knew that she’d built her business largely on customized interior plant design consultations, traveling all over Marin and beyond to visit people in their homes, help them determine the right plant designs for them and then install them.

“I intuitively knew that that was the way to grow my business,” Turner says. “Now I have clients that have been with me for 17 years, and many of them have never even been to my retail store. My business didn’t rely much on retail traffic.”

Green Door Design is about to get a lot more of that retail traffic. In late February 2016, Good Earth Natural Foods, the pioneering organic food market that has been a landmark in Fairfax since 1969, is set to open a 26,000-square-foot store in the former DeLano’s space.

Its arrival will completely transform Tam Junction, a commercial area that has blossomed since DeLano’s closure behind creative businesses like Proof Lab, Shoreline Coffee Shop, Equator Coffees & Teas and, of course, Green Door Design.

Turner is ready. She and her “comrade in arms,” Bobbi Greene, a very well known plant designer herself, are in the midst of making small changes to Green Door’s product inventory to cater to the expected uptick in foot traffic. They’re  bringing in more “ready to go” products like flower-, plant- and succulent-laden containers and vessels.

“I just want to give a heartfelt thank you to the community for their loyalty and support over the years,” Turner says. “I love my clients. A lot of them are my good friends now. Whether I go to them or they come to me, they end up happy and with lots of gorgeous plants, flowers and orchids that I’ve hand-selected.”

The 411: Green Door Design is at 231 A Flamingo Road in Tam Juntion. More info.

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