Having lived in New York, Leah Meeks knows a thing or two about markets. Through The Putnam Market, it's been her goal to bring that kind of shopping experience — and convenience — to Putnam County.
Located in Hurricane, The Putnam Market is the kind of shop one could expect to see in a major metropolis. The open, minimalistic space is inviting, with a create-your-own-bundle flower bar, one-of-a-kind ceramics and health-friendly food items.
Meeks, a West Virginia native, returned to the Mountain State with her husband, a Hurricane native, after earning her master's in fashion merchandising.
"We would frequent these different shops and grocery stores, and when we came back [to West Virginia], we were like, 'wait, where are those places for us to go around here?'" Meeks said. "So we said, 'Let's make a place.' That's how it evolved."
Since it opened in September 2017, Meeks' predominantly floral service business has blossomed.
"We're really busy in terms of weddings," Meeks said. "We're booked pretty much every weekend through September and have been since April. That's the biggest side of business and it's grown tremendously over the last year."
In Putnam County, word of mouth travels fast, and it's led to an influx of new customers seeking nontraditional selections for their sweetheart, dinner table or wedding florals.
At The Putnam Market, there are two ways to create a bundle: Customers can select their own bouquet or have Meeks arrange one for them.
"People can come in and pick two stems or 25 stems and I'll wrap it and tie it for them so they can create their own arrangement at home, or they can pick out one of our vases," Meeks said. "Also, allowing people to bring in their own vase allows them to get flowers more frequently. They're not incurring the cost of delivery fees and they can get a nice arrangement for $40 to $50."
Meeks has made efforts to make the household greenery accessible and affordable.
"I think people have this perceived notion that when they get flowers, they're going to be spending $75 to $100, and I think that's typically a big turnoff for flowers is that they cost so much," she said. "We have it set up so that people aren't stuck with 10 of one stem or 25 roses. You can have a hydrangea, a veronica and a stem of eucalyptus."
The flower bar's selection rotates frequently, as it usually receives two new shipments per week. Experimenting with different varieties had an influence on Meeks' wedding arrangements.
"It's allowed me to be more creative, and people trust our vision and our sourcing," she said.
The space has also made an impression for event planning. Each month, The Putnam Market hosts networking events, bridal showers, birthday parties and seasonal workshops, which vary from wreath-making to flower crowns.
"We always knew we'd have something like this, but we didn't know what it was going to be," Meeks said. "That vision is still there, but [now] we're seeing what's coming into focus and what's working out."
Whether it's sourcing unique flowers or home goods, Meeks takes pride in offering items customers can't find elsewhere.
"We want things you can't just go to Target and buy," she said. "It's supporting local small businesses that are trying to bring different things to the table, and the response thus far has been good."
Flowers, she added, "just bring joy to people."
The Putnam Market is open during the summer Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.