Keeping customers interested year-around is one of David Ruf's secrets to success for Greenhouse Garden Center, which will celebrate 36 years of operation in April.
"Like everyone else, we go through down times. People don't have to buy flowers, but it's one of the biggest pick-me-ups," Ruf said.
He credits his staff for much of his business' success.
"I have a number of people who work for me as managers who used to own their own businesses, so they understand what it's like," Ruf said.
In addition to the usual services one can expect from a garden center, Ruf has a gift shop and a designer, Janet Snipes, who keeps merchandise fresh and creative.
"Janet has a ton of flair and I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for her enthusiasm and flair," he said.
During the holiday season, the garden shop is filled to capacity with Christmas trees overflowing with decorations.
"I'm the crazy woman who comes up with the designs, ceiling treatments and how we put it all together," said Snipes, who has been at Greenhouse for 19 years
"As the seasons change, the gift shop changes. And if I'm not doing the gift shop, I do custom containers and other lavish arrangements with live plants," she said.
In the cold seasons, Ruf offers sprinkler repairs and turnoffs, cut Christmas tree sales and pruning of small trees and shrubs. His buyers are busily planning for Easter and the Fourth of July right now, he said
Ruf also offers a number of free workshops and classes which another long-time employee, Mary Sattler, helps organize, such as ponds, composting, pruning, fruit trees, raised bed, container and square-foot gardening, as well as a big spring "Design Your Landscape" workshop in February. The $100 fee for the landscape class includes lunch both days and class supplies.
Ruf offers complete landscape design services at a variety of levels from "drag your shoe in the dirt" to detailed plans that can run anywhere from $60 to several hundred dollars.
"We have plants on hand so customers can see what they like," he said. "We have 80 trees and 200 shrubs planted."
Ruf is especially proud of his gift shop.
The tiny shop tucked in the back of the store explodes with style and variety, and Greenhouse will close in January to remodel it and make the entrance more accessible.
"We try to remodel something every year to keep things fresh," Ruf said.
"One thing I really like about this business is that people with a lot of stress can just walk around and leave their worries behind," he said.
Greenhouse Garden Center was opened by Ruf's parents, Bob and Pat. He took over after they retired. ȸ