Just about 1,000 feet from the landmark George Washington Bridge that leads into Manhattan, is the flagship store of Metropolitan Plant Exchange. Hence, the name “metropolitan” truly describes Frank Vastano’s three garden centers located in Northern New Jersey.
Metropolitan Plants was born in 1979 just down the street from its current location in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Metropolitan began as a plant store and evolved into a garden center and florist. Today, there are three locations including West Orange and Paramus. Metropolitan Plants caters to quite a diverse clientele at all of its stores, including many international customers from Korea, Japan, Russia, Spain and the Middle East. Their customer base is both Northern New Jersey and New York City. Due to such a diverse customer mix, Metropolitan Plants has bilingual employees and inventories specific items such as fish, house plants and seasonal gifts to meet the needs of certain international cultures.
About ten years ago, the city of Fort Lee approached Frank Vastano about moving his business because they were in desperate need of the property for some of their city operations and storage. Metropolitan Plants then embarked upon a huge project of designing and constructing a new operation just up the road at the junction of Routes 4, 9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. On the new piece of land, they had major challenges working with limited space and were forced to do quite of bit of site work, including building a 35 foot retaining wall along the New Jersey Turnpike.
The new location is state of the art, with 13,000 square feet of store and 13,000 square feet of greenhouse space. In their new location, Metropolitan Plants routes all of their calls from their three stores to a call center where they serve over 100 towns in Northern New Jersey with their florist business. Frank’s son and daughter both work in the family business and take care of flower arrangements. In one weekend alone, Metropolitan provided flower arrangements for fifteen weddings.
When Metropolitan Plants moved into their new location in 2007, they constructed multiple Matterhorn greenhouses. These greenhouses serve as both covered areas for their garden center needs and fully enclosed greenhouses that blend in with the store. The Matterhorn greenhouses have a sixteen foot gutter height to connect to the brick exterior of the building and were specially designed with different shaded coverings for maximum comfort for the plants, the customers and the employees. Within the greenhouses there are kiosks for customer service, and friendly employees are always waiting to serve Metropolitan’s customers. Frank Vastano has developed and grown a first class business with his three stores in Northern New Jersey, and Metropolitan Plant Exchange will continue to remain as a landmark in the shadows of New York City.