The Anthropologist

Urban Outfitters billionaire Dick Hayne — now trying to add to his empire with his new gardening concept, Terrain — has become one of Philadelphia’s richest, most powerful figures by understanding one not-so-simple thing: the quirks and intricacies of the female brain

The day I meet Hayne in Terrain’s greenhouse cafe, a jewel of a lunch spot whose peacefulness belies its location just off bustling Baltimore Pike, the late-afternoon sunlight streams in through grand glass panes, past a forested canopy of staghorn ferns. A wall planted with a patchwork of fragrant thyme varietals rises at one end of the room; at the other, burlap curtains separate the space from a quick-serve coffee, tea and toast bar. From invisible speakers, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and his ukulele croon a soothing Hawaiian take on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I’m smitten, both with Terrain and, quickly, with Dick. But then, it’s not my first time here.

I first visited Terrain in late April, about a week after its opening. For 118 years, the address — 914 Baltimore Pike in Glen Mills — belonged to the venerable and beloved J. Franklin Styer ­Nurseries, which greened superior landscapes in the greater Brandywine area, won endless Flower Show ribbons, and had a long-standing order with the White House for white peonies. (Officially, Terrain’s name is “Terrain at Styer’s.”) Indeed, J. Franklin ­Styer’s former owner Bill Simeral remains, along with an impressive handful of longtime Styer employees.

Like all businesses that survive more than a century, Styer’s changed over the years, but never so much as when it passed into Hayne’s hands in January. Today, there’s a vast barn of shade plants, and an exotic-plant conservatory where ferns, orchids, ­mosses, terrariums and cactus planters mingle with coffee-table books and a pair of weathered Indian doors. A row of artisan-made outdoor fountains leads to an antique Thai temple. The hardware department resembles an authentic general store, replete with a wide-plank wall of antique gardening tools, petite silver ­sprayers displayed on vintage shelves, organic fertilizer sold in burlap bags, and colored twine that I can’t help but covet, despite having no idea what I’d use it for. Best of all is Terrain’s main indoor shop, where tree-trunk tables that recall London’s revered Petersham Nurseries display delicate earthenware, raspberry and tangerine cushions adorn modern teak sofas, and brown-bottled botanical skin-care products look as if they’ve been perfectly handmade by Martha Stewart.

I’m not much of a gardener, but I’ve fallen fast and hard for this 11-acre plot, which feels like an expansive, colorful, peaceful, loosely but impeccably appointed backyard. Only it’s better, because everything in this yard — even in the cafe, with its Indonesian containers made from coconut trees and potted with ylang-ylang and fuchsia ($300), centerpiece herb planters ($30 to $40), and marble-topped wooden table ($650) — is for sale.

In a faded forest green polo, worn jeans and a pair of dusty hiking shoes, sitting in a red folding chair and looking over his latest creation, Hayne seems to fit right in, as if he’s just come in from a morning tending his garden. (He might have: 15 years ago, he rekindled his childhood proclivity for yard work. “It’s springtime,” he says. “Don’t you just feel like getting your hands in the dirt?”) He seems relaxed, perhaps because last year he turned over CEO duties to impeccably natty former Anthro brand president and executive VP of Urban Outfitters, Inc., Glen Senk, now charged with sweating all the nuts, bolts and bulbs. With his new title of president and chairman, Hayne is in big-picture mode, looking for new concepts like Terrain, which has a simple premise: Attract the Benz-driving women, show them a lifestyle they identify with, keep them wandering for an hour, maybe two, and watch sales go through the greenhouse roof.

“You take two people,” he says. “A woman and a man. They’re going shopping. The man has a list. For him, it’s like a chore: ‘I’ve gotta buy a shirt. I know the store I’m going to. I want there to be a stack of my size. I want to pick — and I want to get out.’ It’s the ol’ get-in-and-get-out.” He laughs. “Women, on the other hand, love the process. ‘I’m going shopping.’ That is the activity; that’s the end in and of itself. They’re not going buying, they’re going shopping. And they want things, little things of interest that might be faceted and complex. They don’t want to ‘get in and get out.’ They want to be romanced.”