CLAREMORE — The bright yellow tent in Ne-Mar Shopping Center sells a variety of fall colors, scents and tastes for first-time and professional gardeners.
Pumpkins in every shape, size and color imaginable sit on stacks of hay, surrounded by gorgeous flowers in hues of sunset yellow, burnt orange, deep purple and burgundy.
Christina Varnell and Susan Todd manage the Under the Sun seasonal tent in Claremore, which is open this fall for the first time in several years.
“We’re here always in the spring and summer,” Todd said, as they have been since 2005.
By popular demand, and because they have such a large stock of pumpkins and vegetables left to sell, the Ne-Mar parking lot is once again filled with color.
Under the Sun emphasizes their passion for customer service and the knowledge of their staff.
“We don’t just stand here and ring up customers,” Todd said. Every employee is taught about every plant they sell, so they can properly maintain each one as well as answer any questions customers have about care.
Employees are on hand to help customers arrange pumpkins into topiaries or make decorative fall baskets.
Local artist Rachel Armstrong hand-paints pumpkins with custom designs.
And children can grab a free mini pumpkin out of the shopping cart, or pose for fall pictures among the pumpkin and flower displays.
“Customers are always really in a good mood when they’re shopping for plants,” Varnell said, which makes selling plants fun.
“All of us that work here do it because we really love doing it,” Todd said, explaining how she joined the company. “I hadn’t worked in several years, but I liked plants and I liked being outside, so why not get out and do it.”
Varnell got involved when she first moved to Claremore in 2005.
“I was just looking to meet people and learn about gardening and stuff,” Varnell said.
Even for the managers, running the tent is a part-time job that they love to return to year after year.
Under the Sun is an Oklahoma business, founded in Tulsa. They have four year-round stores, in Tulsa and Edmond, as well as a handful of seasonal tents in Claremore and Oklahoma City.
Under the Sun tents have come and gone in different cities across the state, but the Claremore location has been growing strong for 13 years.
“Our owner loves Claremore. He likes coming up here and he loves the people, the community, the atmosphere,” Varnell said. “I love Claremore, too.”
The plants come from private and commercial growers from all over, and each location has a slightly different array of availability.
Under the Sun has also made a concerted effort to help the community as they can, by donating greenery to local organizations.
In the spring, they have plans to help the Veterans Center build a community herb garden for the veterans to tend and enjoy.
If you decide to visit the tent this fall, Varnell described what you can expect Under the Sun in a few simple words, “Customer service and great plants.”