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Longtime owner of East Lawrence's Sunrise Garden Center places business and property up for sale


If there is one thing I know about gardening, it is that change is inevitable. For instance, I’ve observed that plants in my yard are green for about a week and then brown for much longer.

Well, change is in store for Sunrise Garden Center, the popular nursery and landscaping center at 15th and New York streets. But we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see exactly what the changes mean.

Longtime Sunrise owner Greg McDonald confirmed that he is retiring from the business and has placed the nearly three-acre property up for sale.

McDonald plans to keep the business open until he finds a buyer for the property and he hopes that the eventual buyer will want to keep the garden and nursery business open. But there are no guarantees on that.

“I think it can be very successful doing what it does today, but I think there are a lot of possibilities for people who have new ideas,” said McDonald.

The centerpiece of the property is a large greenhouse that McDonald said is about the size of a football field under glass. That’s enough space that if someone wanted to do some truck farming or shift the business over to more a specialty wholesale operation, it could do so, McDonald said.

Veteran commercial real estate broker Doug Brown of Lawrence’s McGrew Commercial is listing the property, and plans to market it to both retail and wholesale interests. But Brown said he plans to focus on marketing the property to people who want to use the greenhouse as a greenhouse in some way, shape or form. In other words, the plan isn’t to completely redevelop the site.

“We think that is the way to go with the success the business has had over the years,” Brown said. “It would be an attractive business for somebody to get into. It is a good business for Lawrence because it certainly has the green factor.”

As for McDonald, he has owned the business for the last 14 years, and he is ready to have more time to spend on other pursuits. But he said business at the garden center remains strong and that gardening remains very popular in the Lawrence area.

“This Mother’s Day was probably one of the best weekends we have ever had, and I know Memorial Day was the best Memorial Day weekend we’ve ever had,” McDonald said. “There are just so many people who enjoy doing things with the products that we sell.”

My neighbor tells me that some people even enjoy watering their plant products after they buy them. She reminds me of that frequently, for some reason.


he_who_knows_all 5 years ago

Aren't the Fritzels somehow involved with Sunrise Gardens?

Travis Oliver 5 years ago

And what difference does that make?

he_who_knows_all 5 years ago

None. I had always heard that they were partial owners and was just wondering if they still were.

overthemoon 5 years ago

Used to be but sold their interest in it some years ago.

bornherelongago 5 years ago

This seems like a good business for a young couple to get into. Chad, did you find out what the price is?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years ago

I got in touch with Doug Brown, the broker for the property, and the asking price is $975,000, which includes all equipment, fixtures, real estate and existing inventory. Thanks, Chad.

verity 5 years ago

When I lived in Lawrence, I visited Sunrise quite often. They always had a wide variety of plants and the people were generally quite helpful and knowledgable in helping one choose what they needed. It was convenient to have a nursery in the east part of town.

another_concerned_parent 5 years ago

Sunrise Garden Center will be missed, if the new owners choose a different line of business. The management staff has always been wonderful. I worked for Greg shortly after he purchased Sunrise and he did an awesome job!!! I have always wished that I could have stayed and worked with such a team!!! I wish him the best in his future endeavors!!! It was a pleasure working with you!!! Good luck to all of the staff as well.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

It was Owens before Pence before Sunrise!

Matt Schwartz 5 years ago

And before that it was __?(Fill in the blank)

fourkitties 5 years ago

I'm disgusted that you went with doug brown. Everyday, there is another reason I can't wait to get out of this town. The schools, businesses and people have all lost their real "Lawrencian" feel about them. Its no longer Lawrence or the home of the Jayhawks its just Topeka's East side. I'll be glad to move but getting my family to go along won't be so easy. If your thinking of moving to Lawrence, Don't its not what it used to be.

thebigspoon 5 years ago

Why are you disgusted that he went with Doug Brown ? He is from Lawrence and graduated from Lawrence High the same as Greg McDonald...

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"its not what it used to be."


kernal 5 years ago

Nothing is what it used to be - anywhere. Adapt!

Liberty275 5 years ago

I hope it goes better than sunflower -> knology --> wow. We go to sunrise a lot and would hate to see it go away.

jack22 5 years ago

Come on Wilbur, think big. Compton or Fritzel could propose putting up a 15 story apartment building there and then get the city to give them a bunch of tax breaks and other incentives to tear down some of the surrounding houses for a fully subsidized private use parking lot, and thus make it all economically feasible.

Susan Younger 5 years ago

I gave this place three tries, but always found them to be really rude. Hope new management is better. The worst case--there was a flat of ground cover roses, no sign indicating these were different from any of the other plants. When I tried to check out with them, they rudely grabbed the plants and said they were for landscapers only. They were just so rude. That was my first visit, but I gave them two more chances and the staff was terrible. Learn what customer service means.

Nikki May 5 years ago

Last time I went there and asked them for something they were really short with me. I asked if they had any hibiscus and they said, "No." Literally that was all. No info on if they'll get some, when, or what. I tried pulling information out of them. I mentioned that it was for a chameleon and other plants he could have and still nothing. So, I left and got one at home depot.

temperance 5 years ago

Thank you. I thought I was the only one. I went there a few time and, each time, thought "Did I do something to p*ss them off? Why are they being so rude?"

been_there 5 years ago

I went there last month to buy some vegetable plants. When I got home I noticed one was covered in aphids. I took it back the next morning. He told me it really wasn't a problem, that once you planted it they would leave. He called back to someone for a replacement telling them about the aphids. When they brought the new plant it was all wet but they were watering the plants at the time so I didn't think anything of it. When I got in the car I gave it a quick inspection, it seemed ok. By the time I got home it had a few aphids on it. Within a couple of hours it was covered. All they did was rinse it off so the aphids went into the potting mix. I threw it away.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

a friendly place to do business...... thanks Greg

Irenaku 5 years ago

subarooz: I have been buying my plants and trees at Sunrise for years, but I do understand what you mean. They can be a bit insulting when you ask a particular question about something. I just learned to brush it off, because I liked the quality of their plants and wanted to shop local. Howard Pine's is the same way - especially the fella who runs around the greenhouse in short shorts and a visor - I just try to avoid him when I go!

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