The 3-Minute Interview: Joe Carmack

Local,Taryn Luntz
Joe Carmack owns Garden District, an indoor and outdoor plant and garden shop in the middle of the bustling 14th Street corridor. Carmack left his marketing and sales job to open the outdoor store at 14th and S streets in 2002 and added a new indoor store a few blocks away in the spring.

What prompted you to start a garden shop in the middle of the city?

It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. I was already there — I’ve lived here for 15 years, always on this side of town. I saw the potential on 14th Street, and I wanted to be a part of it. I also wanted to break out and do something on my own.

How did you prepare for your new role as owner of a garden shop?

I wanted a little plant shop, but my friends said: “Before you do that, figure out what it is you’re getting into.” So I did go back and go through the George Washington University landscape design program. It’s a two-year graduate certificate program, and Garden District was my final project.

What would people be surprised to learn about what it’s like to run a garden shop?

It’s a real business — it has to be treated like a real business. When I first started I thought, “This is going to be great, I’m going to be working with all these plants, I’m going to have all this fun.” There’s the whole romantic side of it, but the reality is that it’s a business and you really have to enjoy the business side of it.

What’s your favorite plant at home?

That would have to be my chocolate vine — it grows like crazy. It’s a vine, and it’s solved a lot of issues that I have as far as concealing things and providing privacy. It’s beautiful — it’s a fast grower, and it grows all over my house.
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