Seattle Culture

Molbak’s Returns

Popular store launches community hub for gardening

By Rob Smith April 11, 2024

Aerial view of Molbak's Garden + Home featuring sustainable urban farm with greenhouses and neatly arranged garden beds, surrounded by residential houses.

Molbak’s Garden + Home didn’t shut down for long.

The popular Woodinville garden store was forced to close in January following a dispute with the developer of The Gardens District, a privately funded project designed to transform more than 19 acres into a neighborhood with extensive garden space, apartments, retail shops and restaurants. The project has been in the works for more than 15 years.

Molbak’s instead has launched a new community initiative called Green Phoenix Collaborative at Molbak’s, which will transform the former retail site into a community hub for all things gardening. The collaborative will feature programs, classes, and events.

Owner Jens Molbak says the idea emanated from the outpouring of support the 67-year-old Seattle gardening center received when it shut down.

“People sent letters, posted on social media, and cleared out the shelves at the final sale,” he says. “Motivated by that community support, we’ve spent the last two months working on a possible next chapter.”

The focus of the Collaborative is on products, services, education, inspiration, and innovation. An array of companies will provide programming, with possibilities including products and services related to landscaping, arts and crafts, seasonal farmer’s markets, and best practices for sustainability, climate change, and regenerative agriculture. 

It will also feature a community garden and expert-led classes. Retail spaces will include spots to sample local wines, whiskeys, beers, and food.

Left: an industrial-style workshop with several artisans crafting items. Right: an outdoor urban market bustling with visitors and various stalls by Molbak’s Garden + Home.

Molbak’s has invested an initial $1 million to launch the project, and has a goal to raise the remaining $2.5 million it needs by May 9.

“Whether you’re a master gardener or a kid who’s just starting to get into plants, we want to be a place where you can shop, learn, share, get inspired or just hang out,” says Molbak’s CEO Julie Kouhia. “Plants, gardening and connecting with nature can contribute so much to our mental health and sense of wellbeing, both as individuals and communities.”

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