Garden centre closing dismays regular clients

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 14/01/2013

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Customers of Bay Nurseries are lamenting the loss of a centre packed full of extraordinary plants and knowledgeable staff.

The Richmond garden centre's owner says the closure, announced last month, is an example of the plight of independent nurseries around the country.

Long-term customers Chris and Chris Croucher were among shoppers who turned out to a closing sale at the weekend.

Mrs Croucher said it was sad that the garden centre was closing, as they had shopped at the centre at least once a fortnight for the last six years. She loved the selection of plants and the friendly and informative staff.

"We have found some extraordinary plants. I love coming here, I really do."

It would be "frightening" to try to work out how much they had spent at the centre over the years, she said.

The husband and wife were buying hedge plants to make a path to a doll's house in their garden.

The project was originally planned to take a few years, but when they heard about the closure they had accelerated their efforts.

"We have been rushing in to finish it, before Christmas we started filling up the boot," Mrs Croucher said.

Now the centre was closing, Mrs Croucher said she would be buying her plants from the Nelson Market, rather than the larger stores.

The garden centre has been open for 36 years.

Owner John de Jong, who purchased the business in 2007, said the closure was part of a national trend, with independent nurseries struggling because of poor weather, the recession and pressure from larger stores.

In his case, three years of poor weather, particularly during spring, had meant income had suffered.

"When that happens for a few years in a row that really does affect you.

It was sad that it had come to this after 35 years of operation, but the nursery was not the only one in New Zealand in a similar situation, he said.

The closing down sale had brought many customers into the store, which he said was a sign that customers were hungrier for bargains in recent years.

Mr de Jong said he would continue to work in the industry, but had not yet decided on a position.

The garden centre's 1.2-hectare site on the corner of Bateup and Gladstone Rds was bought by supermarket giant Foodstuffs in 2007.

The company has not revealed its plans for the site.

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- The Nelson Mail

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