Flooring store adds hydroponics supplies

KURTIS HOUSTON TESTS the pH level in some of the growing media at his new business, Desert Bloom Hydroponics, 445 Pitkin Avenue. Houston and his wife decided to add the business to their showroom at Karnes Carpet World after discovering the nearest such business was in Durango.

Karnes Carpet World, with its conspicuous location between a gas station and auto repair shop at 445 Pitkin Ave., had little foot traffic before the owners lit up the inside with hydroponic grow lights and the outside with an eye-popping storefront sign for their new business, Desert Bloom Hydroponics.

Kurtis and Lisa Houston have owned Karnes Carpet World for the past seven years, with steady business doing commercial-sized flooring projects.

Problem was the store, which they purchased from the Karnes family, wasn’t drawing foot traffic despite having a storefront.

“I don’t even remember the last time we had someone in here shopping for carpet or tile,” Kurtis Houston said.

So the pair decided they needed to find a way to put the space to good use. On a trip to Denver for their daughter’s marching band competition, Kurtis spotted a Big Tomato hydroponics store and got to thinking about it. Research on the Internet revealed the closest hydroponics shop was in Durango. By January, the Houstons had rearranged the showroom to open Desert Bloom Hydroponics to stock equipment and supplies.

“We opened up with about half the showroom. Two weeks later, we got all the tile and carpet out of here and expanded,” he said.

The showroom has been transformed into an indoor garden with vegetable plants arranged in plastic storage tubs where their roots can soak up water and nutrients, and the leaves are bathed by artificial lights set to timers.

So far the additional business is booming. Kurtis estimated he doubled February’s sales figures in March, adding, “I’m having a hard time keeping stuff on the shelves.”

The shop’s growth has outpaced what the Houstons expected, and they are excited about the new venture.

“We’re committed now. We’re all enjoying it,” he said.

Kurtis said he had limited hydroponic knowledge when he opened the shop.

“I dabbled years ago, science projects and stuff,” he said.

The shop carries videos and books for do-it-yourselfers and customers who are just getting started. Those curious about hydroponics are welcome to visit the shop and sample some of the fruits and vegetables off the plants grown inside.

The plants are there to give customers ideas about the plants and systems they can set up in their own homes. One benefit to hydroponically grown plants is they can grow fruit all year, providing fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers in the dead of winter.

Hydroponic plants are grown with the aid of a nutrient solution, rather than soil. The roots of the plant may be supported by media, such as plastic, clay or stone. Kurtis Houston said plants grown hydroponically grow 30 to 50 percent quicker than plants grown in soil.

Kurtis said his suppliers have helped ensure he is stocking his shelves with the right products, and he is listening to what the customers want for special orders.

“A lot of people are excited we’re here. They don’t have to drive to Denver or pay freight on the Internet,” he said.


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