Shades of Moss has become a local darling for houseplants, vinyl and good vibes

by Wyatt Gordon

March 15, 2024

2:51 PM

Before Barry Greene Jr. returned to Richmond, his hometown, in summer 2022 he’d grown his hybrid plant and record shop, Shades of Moss, into an award-winning retail concept in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In September 2023, he debuted a Richmond outpost in a cozy Fan storefront at 2128 W. Cary St. The uprooting was inspired by the energetic community of new Black-owned businesses in Richmond, as Greene notes that he experienced a lack of encouragement for Black entrepreneurs in Charlotte.

With a healthy crop of common and rare houseplants and a partnership with local plant pop-up The Prickly Succulent, Greene wants to expand Richmonders’ options and knowledge of plant life and care. For those without a green thumb, Shades of Moss hosts regular plant parent classes in-store. “We go further to discuss where a plant should go versus just if the plant is pretty,” Greene says. “We offer full service and answers to questions like, ‘Will this be happy in a window in the bathroom?’ or ‘Will this be OK for my pets?’”

Greene also offers house calls, where he’ll perform a “plant health consultation” to water, trim or otherwise maintain plants for $50 an hour.

Shades of Moss isn’t all greenery, though. Between the leaves sprouting in the store, Greene has made a home for indie records, another one of his passions. “Music is always around in a well-designed space,” he says.

The store’s selection began with what he listens to most: lo-fi, a genre with chill beats and jazz elements. Now, the stacks are full of psychedelic soul, funk, hip-hop and more.  He categorizes his variety of vinyl by mood.  While “coffee time” has a slower tempo, “date night” leans toward sultry jazz.

Greene’s choice to focus on stocking new releases may be a more expensive route, but educating the customer has always been part of the mission at Shades of Moss. “My goal is that you walk in, and you get to see the vinyl of independent artists and local bands,” he says.

Greene runs the small business with his wife, Victoria. It is no easy feat on top of their day jobs in business and journalism, but the entrepreneurial family has no regrets. “Last year was a tough year to reopen our business in Richmond, but we wouldn’t change a thing,” Greene says. “I can’t tell you how much this community has shown up in various ways.”