When he was a general contractor, Joe Moorman helped erect a building that became the Moritz Flower Shop at 8220 N. Dixie Drive. Moorman and friend Dave Stitts are now turning that space into a hydroponics store called Miami Valley Hydro.
Hydroponics is growing vegetation in nutrient-rich water rather than soil.
Moorman has been rehabbing the store for more than a month. He hopes to open on Monday.
The store will be as eclectic as Moorman, a 1981 Vandalia-Butler grad.
“I’ve been a general contractor, property manager and charter captain on Lake Erie,” said Moorman, who is preparing to sell his 25-foot fishing boat that’s now parked in his parking lot.
Hydroponics is a $540 million industry that grew at a rate of 7.8 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm.
“I thought this (the hydroponics store) was interesting. It’s not (a business that’s) around here. And it’s recession proof. Everyone’s got to eat, and everyone’s growing their own stuff now.”
The idea is to grow more with water and nutrients and less with soil and chemicals. Moorman and Stitts will have nutrients for sale, along with bucket systems and supplies to help the home gardener grow fruits and vegetables.
Moorman and Stitts are also restoring four 22-foot by 88-foot greenhouses and will have a “u-pick” garden of strawberries, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables, all sans chemicals.
The store, which will use about 1,600 of the 4,000 available square footage for selling space, will sell vitamin drinks and smoothies, and probably some other edibles, “as long as it’s healthy,” Moorman said.
It’s certainly good news for Butler Township, which is hoping to develop North Dixie Drive , which runs parallel to the heavily commercial Miller Lane.
“The township is extremely pleased to see the redevelopment of the former Moritz property,” township trustee president Martin Russell said. “This and other prospective projects are a clear indication that the township’s work to promote a positive business climate is paying off for the community. ”
The store has a website (www.miamivalleyhydro.com), although it is not yet complete, and Moorman isn’t certain of how many employees he will hire to run the store. Hours of operation remain unclear as well.
“We’ll be open early and stay open late,” Moorman said. ” It will be something like 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
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