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New Plant Shop, Clover MKE, Is Staying Local To Provide More Sustainable Plants

Clover Milwaukee
The owners of Clover Milwaukee recently opened a storefront in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood. While they aren't yet ready for customers in the store, delivery and curbside services are offered during the pandemic.

A new store has opened its doors in Bay View. Clover MKE is a plant shop committed to sustainability. From repurposed pots to locally sourced plants, Clover MKE keeps their carbon footprint low.

The business is co-owned by Sissy Butner and Maggie Murphy, two house plant enthusiasts who connected over social media. They both wanted to start a business to expand their house plant hobby but were concerned about some of the unseen impacts of buying plants.

“Plants themselves aren’t necessarily the most sustainable product, just when it’s a retail product because of ... they call them ‘plant miles’, basically most [plants are] produced in Florida and California so there’s a lot of resources and energy that goes into transporting them to the consumer,” says Butner.

Another energy consuming part of the plant hobby is that buyers will have to drive around to several different greenhouses, sometimes out of state to find the specific plants they want. Clover MKE hopes to be a centralized hub for those buyers and reduce the amount of travel it takes to track down plants.

But opening a new business amongst a pandemic is hard. Butner says she had originally bought a trailer so she could be a pop-up plant shop at farmers markets, but Wisconsin weather proved to make that difficult. And in a time where most retail stores are closing down, both women acknowledge the risk they're taking.

Credit Clover Milwaukee
Maggie Murphy (left) and Sissy Butner pose with the keys after newly acquiring the storefront for Clover Milwaukee.

“It’s scary,” admits Murphy.

“It’s a risk that we’re willing to take for something that we’re really passionate about,” Butner adds.

But they say plants are on the rise during the pandemic and Murphy says that’s not by accident.

“They offer such a nice thing to add to your home, you start a schedule because they need to be watered at different times, they freshen your air, they offer something nice to look at and I feel like because so many people are ... stuck at home, whether it be watching your kids or working from home at a desk, they just need that little pick me up,” she notes.

Clover MKE is located at 2252 S Kinnickinnic Ave in Milwaukee and is open for curbside pick-up.

Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.