Kaitlin Orner. (Linette Kielinski)

Kaitlin Orner owns Pomelo, a flower, plant, and gift shop offering retail and full-service wedding and event florist services. The shop also has an outdoor courtyard that can be used for events. “Indoor houseplants, indoor tropicals, and succulents” are some things Orner says folks can expect when they visit the storefront.

Orner came to Northwest Philadelphia in 2009 to study social work at Temple University. In 2017, she settled in Germantown. A few years later, Orner began operating a pop-up shop, which is now Pomelo, in the Center City area. With the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, she took the business virtual.  She returned to a physical space at 6352 Germantown Avenue, which she then outgrew, leading her to its present headquarters at 5336 Germantown Avenue.

While Orner studied social work, she also concentrated on community organizing and policy. This knowledge and background have been most valuable, as Orner can refer to strategies and lessons learned to apply to neighborhood issues, whether helping to obtain stop signs or seeking accountability and better practices from the neighborhood post office.

Last week, Orner chatted with the Germantown Info Hub about some of her favorite things about the neighborhood.

Favorite place to get food

Orner keeps it close to her shop with her picks Tipsy Cafe & Catering at 5227 Germantown Avenue and Salam Cafe at 5532 Greene Street. 

When ordering from Tipsy’s, she goes with their Chipotle Burger, which she credits because of the “caramelized onions, avocado, and sauce situation.” She pairs the burger with their truffle fries.

From Salam Cafe, Orner says, “Baklava… that’s like my treat.” But she also says the hummus is good.

Favorite park to frequent

Orner names Bluebell Park (842 West Walnut Lane) the park she frequents. She says sometimes she’ll stop there for a walk when making deliveries.

Favorite leisure activities

“For a very limited period of time, I used to tap dance,” Orner laughs. She shares that there were a few places where she’d done that previously, like at the Rain Dance Studio (5900B Greene Street) and the KDD Theatre (5427 Germantown Avenue), but she no longer sees offerings, so she may have to go outside the neighborhood.

Favorite shops

She names Gaffney Fabrics (5401 Germantown Avenue) and Bargain Thrift Center (5261 Germantown Avenue) as her two top spots. “Gaffney’s has always bailed me out when I lose ribbon scissors. And they sharpen my scissors, which is helpful for me. And then Bargain Thrift – I like to look for unusual vessels and find inspiration rummaging through the aisles there,” she says.

Most used public transportation

Living near the Queen Lane train station and formerly operating the pop-up shop at 20th and Locust, Orner says she used to take the Chestnut Hill West Line. However, with the most recent business model, Orner now uses her vehicle more to make deliveries.

Suggested historic destination to visit and learn more about

“I’m going to go plant-related on that because the wisteria at Grumblethorpe is about to bloom,” Orner says. “The buds are on the vines. This time of year, going to see the gardens at Grumblethorpe is a ten out of ten.” Grumblethorpe sits at 5267 Germantown Avenue.

She also named the Rose Garden at the Wyck House because of its selection of rare roses. It is recognized as the country’s oldest rose garden.

Orner also suggests these as two spring activities for residents and visitors.

Favorite fun fact about Germantown

Kaitlin says, “[Germantown] has such strong roots in horticulture,” and the spirit is still alive today. She says she was gifted the Germantown Gardens and Gardeners book a while back, and since reading more about Germantown’s green roots, she’s learned that there used to be early floristry shops, wholesale retail greenhouses, and more.

Personal neighbor/community-group shoutout

She names Birdie Busch, who runs the @shopgtownphilly page on Instagram, as her first pick. She says the Instagram account is very helpful for seeing things happening in Germantown in one place. She adds that Birdie is “always giving back to the community and very supportive of everyone.” 

She also acknowledges Shannon Sims and the other volunteers who work with the Germantown Community Fridges, describing them as “one of the greatest assets of the community.”

One addition she’d like to see in the neighborhood

“I would really love a nice sit-down restaurant place,” Orner shares. “You know, a place you can go bring people from out of town. A place you can go to celebrate big moments or to have a sit-down meal and a cocktail at the same time. And something open past six at night would be awesome.”