Retired sales trainer Joe Brunner lives at Eaton Place at Douglas and St. Francis, so he noticed when DeVille’s Barbershop and Shaving Parlor left for Delano at the start of the year.
“I went down, and I said, ‘Hey, I’d love to do that place,’ ” he says he told management.
He’s now opened the Planted Vase, which Brunner describes as “aquarium vases for small spaces.”
“It’s designed to bring nature from the outside into the inside in a small space.”
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Brunner starts by selecting a vase or any container, such as a lantern, that a customer wants to have an aquarium in.
“It really doesn’t matter what you put them in,” he says.
Then he adds gnarled wood from the Sierra Mountains, underwater plants and rocks from Thailand.
“They’re beautiful, beautiful shaped rocks.”
Finally, he adds fish, snails and shrimp.
“You feed the fish and then basically the snails and shrimp feed the plants,” Brunner says.
He says the vases are great alternatives to larger, more traditional aquariums.
Brunner calls those big and “a lot of work. They can be really messy.”
Brunner says he’s loved fish since a teacher introduced him to an aquarium in first grade.
“It’s become a passion for me.”
Although the first design he made “was an absolute disaster,” Brunner says he got better and better at it.
“I had so many people that were ordering them.”
He says he thought, “I should probably go into business and try them.”
Brunner says the store will combine his hobby with some spending money.
“This is basically going to be my retirement income.”