Archive for Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Road work causing business to wilt, owner says

Cindy Pippenger, left, and her friend Janet Miller, both of Oklahoma City, shop Monday at Pine’s Garden Center, 1320 N. Third St. Owners at Pine’s say the nursery business has been significantly affected by North Lawrence road work.

Cindy Pippenger, left, and her friend Janet Miller, both of Oklahoma City, shop Monday at Pine’s Garden Center, 1320 N. Third St. Owners at Pine’s say the nursery business has been significantly affected by North Lawrence road work.

June 15, 2010


Construction makes getting to local greenhouse harder

Howard Pine's Garden Center in north Lawrence has seen decreased sales since construction started near Johnny's and now with the construction on exit 204 of the turnpike. Enlarge video

The flowers are in full bloom in North Lawrence, but the customers are not.

Howard Pine’s Garden Center and Greenhouse, 1320 N. Third St., is on the verge of its worst season in its 48 years in business, and owner Gerald Pine attributes the financial downturn to ongoing road construction projects in North Lawrence.

“The greenhouse business is much like a farm,” Pine said, while standing amid rows and rows of vibrant-colored geraniums. “You plant all these flowers, and you expect so many of them to be harvested. When you have too many left over, it’s hurting your business, and it’s hurting so much that it’s going to be hard to get to next season.”

Pine said it started with the bottleneck caused by the detour from the construction on North Second Street, and business only got worse when the East Lawrence interchange closed in early April, cutting off access to North Lawrence from the Kansas Turnpike. That exit is scheduled to remain closed until November.

“I’ve had customers from Topeka and Kansas City say we just can’t have that quick stop that we normally would have if we were traveling on the interstate, and so they just have to go by. There’s no way to get off.”

Pine estimates sales are down by as much as 20 percent. He said the downturn in the economy and rainy weather throughout much of May could also be having an impact.

But customers aren’t the only ones having a hard time making it to the North Lawrence business. Employees said the road construction is taking its toll on them, too.

“I live out by Clinton Lake, and it used to be that I could get here in 12 minutes,” longtime Pine’s employee Corky Kearney said. “Right now, I have to come down Sixth Street, which amounts to about 30 minutes in each direction, so that does make quite a difference.”

Pine knows he’s not alone. He said he’s talked to other businesses along the corridor that have seen a dramatic decrease in customers, too, but with his business being seasonal and only open from late March until early August at the latest, he’s feeling the effects even more.

“This is my worst financial downturn,” Pine said. “This is the worst financial crisis that I’ve faced.”

Pine said he and other North Lawrence business owners wanted to get the word out that, for the most part, North Second Street is now open in both directions, and he hopes that will go a long way toward luring customers back into his business.

“It’s much easier than it used to be,” Pine said. “All the businesses, we all want to get together and tell everyone it’s a little easier to get over here now than it was.”


whatadrag 7 years, 10 months ago

I have a suspicion that the city uses these road "projects" to bully out unwanted businesses...sarcasm...Lawrence is known by all of my out of town friends as the pothole-infested, construction-that-doesn't-ever-get-finished town.

nobody1793 7 years, 10 months ago

I've lived here for 20 years and never even heard of the place. Looks like they just got some killer advertising!

anneht 7 years, 10 months ago

If y ou have lived here 20 years and never heard of the place, then you aren't a gardener! It is a "killer" place, where many gardeners rely on getting good plants at good prices.Sorry about the road repair, Pine's!

George_Braziller 7 years, 10 months ago

I shop at several different nurseries and greenhouses depending on what I need. Each one is different. Pine's has the best selection and variety of roses in Lawrence.

pagan_idolator 7 years, 10 months ago

Shopped there the other day and found their prices to be quite good. Lots of things on sale. The intersection at 2nd and Locust is now completely open but they are tearing the h3ll out of 2nd and Elm.

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

pretty people often need flowers and such to augment and bring down sky-high levels of self-beauty so that the rest of the population won't look so ugly. it is very hard being as pretty as I am.

pagan_idolator 7 years, 10 months ago

I will try to find a way to send you flowers. I don't want you stressed out trying to maintain in a world of ugly.

pagan_idolator 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree jackbinkelman - the problem with Hyvee, Dillons, etc is they don't usually have greenhouse employees and the plants are usually wilted and/or heat stressed. Its like they occasionally send a cart person or bagger out to water plants. Although the Hyvee's (Clinton Parkway) plants looked pretty good so I think they may be paying more attention.

ForThePeople 7 years, 10 months ago

The two gals running the HyVee nursery on Clinton Pkwy. and Kasold know their stuff. They have been there several years and are always good about getting some of the more unusual varieties of different plants in stock.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Pines,HyVee, Sunrise and VINLAND VALLEY NURSERY do maintain their stock.

Vinland Valley Nursery is the greenest in practice.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

It's the family's last name. They've been farming in this area for eons. Maybe since the 1800's?

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

The Pine family is a very rich farm family in northern Douglas and southern Jefferson county. They also sell all that sod. I imagine sod sales are down, but surely they have enough money to weather this glitch. The exchange will be open again next year.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

Being land rich and being money rich aren't the same anymore.

ph007 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes Gerald is a relative, but is on his own. He is not !! rich and is just trying to keep a family business going, I think at this point a 1/2 price sale ...... or buy one get one free is in order.

photorat 7 years, 10 months ago

Great article! But may be to late for most here on the north side. I wish my business was down 20% and not 60%. After 25 year I'm not so sure i can make it though November (we all know it will be next spring) Most around here have just had to fold up. There should always be a plan to help people stay in business during projects like these.

Brandon Graham 7 years, 10 months ago

How about set up a garden center somewhere else in town that's more accessible when something like this happens and send flowers there to be sold? How about the farmers market? Or offer delivery? Or offer shipping? Do you have a database of all that customer information who are from KC and Topeka so you can send them an email or mailer? How about Facebook or any other social media platform? Do you know what that is? What has been done to be proactive? Excellent marketing through the JW.

ForThePeople 7 years, 10 months ago

Most things at Pines are now half price. They still have LOTS of nice stuff! I always do a spring circuit of all the local nurseries, including the ones outside of town. Each one has something specific the others don't have that I use each year. Pines is the only nursery with a nice selection of Passion Vine, which BTW they still have. It is quite unusual loaded with beautiful flowers by the middle of July. I always get lots of compliments on this one!

countrygirl 7 years, 10 months ago

The last time I was at Pine's their stuff was so crowded together it was hard to get up and down the aisles and look at things. I MUCH prefer Skinner's in Topeka. Good quality plants and spread out enough that it's easy to shop.

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