Last Thursday I wrote the email I had been dreading writing for almost 5 years: that we will be closing our garden center for good this coming June. We were really not sure what the response would be. While we knew people would be upset, the outpourings of good wishes and tears have been overwhelming.
I always knew that Behnke Nurseries was a special place, but was that because I grew up on the nursery? That my grandparents loved everything about their business? That my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling worked here my entire life until her retirement as president many years ago? Or because my uncle, Roland Behnke, after he retired from the Air Force, also jumped back into the family business till he retired? What is it about our company? All week, I have been thinking of this until it came to me that I’ve always known the answer: it’s the people. It’s our loyal, wonderful employees who have become like family. It’s YOU, our customers, who have become friends we have known for many years. We have watched your children grow up and cried with you when your parents or grandparents passed away. We have looked at your photographs of that tree you planted 20 years ago or the one you just planted. It’s the people.
I am truly humbled by the response this last week. I thank all of you for your memories and I am so happy you are coming out to see us while creating new memories. I also want to thank our staff, without whom there would be no Behnke’s. A company is only as good as their employees, and if you stopped in this week, I know you saw that firsthand–how they took care of you and others with calmness and class even with as busy as we were. You, our friends, have come in and thanked us for all the years you shopped with us, but it is also the Behnke family that thanks you and our employees from the bottom of our hearts.
I do want to remind everyone about something very important. We are NOT CLOSING TILL JUNE!!! Our plan is to have a normal Spring with all the annuals, perennials, houseplants and woody plants you might ever want. We will be restocking every day. Our buyers are placing orders and our suppliers are excited to get us their best plants as fast as they can!
I was asked: “Why hold the closing sale now? Why not wait till June?” The answer is very simple: we wanted to give you enough time to come in and shop when you actually want the plants in Spring! Not in the Summer. We decided to have the entire store on sale during our busiest months of April and May for you! Plus, we wanted to give you time to look around your home, rummage through that sock drawer and find those missing gift cards. We are really hoping that with two plus months, everyone has enough time to find those missing gift cards and redeem them while we have the plants and supplies that you really want.
by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President