Walking into Wonderlands Emporium feels like entering a rainforest rather than a cafe.
Nestled on Government Road in the Northyards neighbourhood, plants fill the entry and shelves on the walls, with some nearly as small as your palm and some that tower towards the ceiling.
Several seating areas are tucked inside, as well as a large patio outside. Just a few steps beyond the plants for sale, there’s a coffee counter ready to serve thirsty customers.
The idea to blend a cafe and plant store may sound like an odd combination at first blush, but the two co-owners and operators, David and Kari-Lynn Kenny, said people in Squamish understand.
“People get it — and they go together really well,” David said. “They appreciate the uniqueness of it.”
The idea for the business came from combining David’s passion for coffee and Kari-Lynn’s passion for plants.
David has worked in a variety of restaurants throughout his career.
“Coffee was kind of my wheelhouse,” he explained. “When the pandemic came around, being in the restaurant business, I had some time to think about the next steps and what we wanted to do.”
And, while Kari-Lynn is still a local environmental consultant, she said she loved the idea of having a plant nursery and combining the two would allow them to see through some of their creative goals.
Plus, they saw a need for a community space in their own backyard.
“It kind of felt to us a bit of a neighbourhood that people just drove through and no one really stopped to congregate,” said Kari-Lynn. “We wanted to create a community here because we lived here and we knew lots of other people who lived here too.”
With that in mind, they’ve already held small events like yoga in the space. They’ve also partnered with other local businesses for food and a variety of treats as well, which is just one of the ways they keep the business eco-friendly.
And if you have an idea for a community event in the space, they want to hear from you.
“We’re basically open to ideas from people in the community,” said David.
Of course, while the plants look beautiful there’s the mental benefits too.
The Kennys said seeing their son connect to the environment through plants and foraging gave them “a renewed sense of purpose in spreading the joy that plants can bring in whatever small way we can.”
As the business nears its opening anniversary, Kari-Lynn said seeing that joy from customers upon arrival or as they are leaving with a new plant has been especially rewarding.
“It makes us feel so good when we see people light up when they come in,” she said.
“It's just a really, really, really nice feeling,” he said.
For more information about Wonderlands Emporium, stop in from Wednesday to Monday during the day or visit wonderlandsemporium.com.