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Another plant shop? Space Cadet is more than meets the eye


The business model behind Space Cadet isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. A lot of people visit the Wells Avenue shop to stock up on houseplants and accessories, including potting soil and pots. The real mission behind the brand, however, isn’t simply to fuel your plant parent dreams. It’s actually one rooted in sustainability.

Andrew Frank started work on Space Cadet in March 2020, one week before the world shut down. 

“I always joke around that because we opened a business at the worst possible time, there was nowhere to go but up,” Frank said. “Thankfully, we’ve experienced steady growth since our opening in June 2020.”

The core values of the business rest in finding sustainable alternatives and championing local entrepreneurs with the same goals. Ultimately, it’s two-fold: there is a retail storefront and creative space on Wells Avenue and an art-centric business that uses upcycled branded retail displays to create custom build outs for small businesses. 

Space Cadet has upcycled over 250,000 lbs. of obsolete retail displays, according to Frank.

For Frank, the idea truly bloomed out of his desire to do better for the planet. A personal goal of eliminating single-use coffee cups quickly led to a more earth-conscious lifestyle. 

“I started looking for something else I could do to be better,” he said.

Plants and pots are just a portion of Space Cadet’s business model, which focuses on sustainability. Image: Provided by Andrew Frank

At Space Cadet, the goal isn’t to hoard secrets for their own success. When a smart, earth-friendly alternative presents itself—the staff at Space Cadet is the first to share it. “Our operational goal is to test sustainable practices, which we then pass on to other retailers to help them mitigate waste,” Frank said.

The group does, of course, practice what they preach. Along with his partner in business and life, Greta Hanger, Frank built the original retail space using only upcycled materials. 

“Our operational goal is to go for a full calendar year generating less than one cubic yard of waste,” he said. “When we initially opened, we were able to go almost five months without creating garbage.”

Greta Hanger and Andrew Frank, who opened Space Cadet on Wells Avenue in June 2020. Image: Provided by Frank

Since business has picked up, additional waste is imminent, but the goal is to continue to bring that waste down. “If we can figure out solutions to those problems, we all can grow,” Frank said.

If you visit the website, you’ll quickly notice Space Cadet also advertises a snowboard component to the business, as well. Frank and his team partnered with Vail Resorts to turn broken, landfill-bound snowboards into canvases for local artists. 

And supporting the local artist community is evident throughout the business model as Space Cadet also teaches free or low-cost art classes in various disciplines. A grant from National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Reno helps to fund these classes.

On any given day one can walk into Space Cadet—a name Frank chose to represent those who have their bodies on Earth but their heads up in space, but also as a nod to the 1948 novel of the same name—and notice everything from upcycled clothes to candles that support a cause.

“Our average customer is someone who cares about the planet and believes that we can do better together,” Frank said. At its core, Space Cadet is an exercise in sustainability. “Incremental improvements lead to exponential growth,” Frank said.


460 S Wells Ave, Reno, NV 89502
Wednesday – Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.