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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.


Steven Gaudreau 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I have shopped at Sunrise for almost two decades and have never had an issue. Pines on the other hand destroyed some of my property during a delivery and refused to pay for the damage because the driver was outsourced by them. I no longer give Pines my business.


Andini 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Where's the story about Kiefs getting out of the record and cd business? They'll now just be selling audio-video components which they've been doing for 50 plus years.


Irenaku 10 months, 2 weeks 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!


Richard Heckler 10 months, 2 weeks ago

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


subarooz 10 months, 2 weeks 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.


L7 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Very nice free advertisement of a business for sale. The LJW has definitely sold their cash based soul on this one. No better then the Koch brothers.


oneeye_wilbur 10 months, 2 weeks ago

3acres. =. 21 low income units of hosing


Liberty275 10 months, 2 weeks ago

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


fourkitties 10 months, 2 weeks 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.


blindrabbit 10 months, 2 weeks ago

It was Owens before Pence before Sunrise!


another_concerned_parent 10 months, 2 weeks 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.


oneeye_wilbur 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The real estate becomes more valuable than the business. Taxes at commercial rate, electricity, water, insurance. It is tough to make it pay!


toe 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Pence did a good job too. As soon as Kansas follows Colorado, the greenhouse can become a pot-house. Might want to wait a bit before selling. The income potential is staggering.


verity 10 months, 2 weeks 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.


CWGOKU 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes he did, and it will cost alot of green.


bornherelongago 10 months, 2 weeks ago

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


he_who_knows_all 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Aren't the Fritzels somehow involved with Sunrise Gardens?


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