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Hope Springs Eternal

Local Greenhouse and Garden Center Owners Optimistic Moving Forward

Photos by Scott McCloskey Klug’s Greenhouse employee Marlene Guggenheimer waters the many colorful poinsettias currently for sale at the Wheeling business.

WHEELING — While two local greenhouse and garden center businesses experienced a slow start with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, both businesses flourished once the growing season kicked into full swing.

Klug’s Greenhouse, located near Mount Olivet, and Nicky’s Garden Center, located along Warden Run Road in Wheeling, experienced much the same as many other greenhouse businesses around the county this year as a result of a gained interest in gardening this past growing season.

While Klug’s Greenhouse initially struggled to sell all of its Easter flowers back in March when the pandemic really began to affect many businesses around the country, by the time the growing season ramped up by late-spring, business picked up considerably at the 7,000 square foot greenhouse.

Owner Ron Klug said, early on during the pandemic, churches which normally buy Easter flowers from his business were closed due to the pandemic. So they struggled to sell about half the amount of flowers they normally sell during the Easter season. But he said it was only a matter of weeks before things quickly turned around once the growing and gardening season began in earnest.

“From what I understand, just about every greenhouse in the country went through the same thing,” Klug said.

“People were home and they wanted to do something,” Klug explained. “Greenhouses were allowed to be open, so we actually had a very good year. After Easter, it was much better.”

Klug said while he is concerned possibly with slower poinsettia sales over the coming holiday season because of similar reasons they experienced during the Easter season, he remains very hopeful for the overall future of the nearly 50-year-old business.

“I think in the spring it should be as good as last spring — if not better,” Klug added.

Currently filled with thousands of brilliant red and white poinsettias, during the warmer months Klug’s greenhouse is filled with a large assortment of potted flowers, hanging baskets, herbs and a variety of vegetables.

Nicky’s Garden Center Owners P.J. and Nikki Lenz experienced much the same roller coaster encounter with their business this year.

“Much like Ron (Klug), we were nervous during the Easter season because we had churches canceling … so we were pretty concerned,” Nikki Lenz explained.

“Then going into the spring, we had a good spring (season),” she added. “I think it is because everyone was forced to stay at home and gardening really became a booming activity for people. So we were fortunate and blessed going into our normal growing season … and we sold out.”

“And then we experienced a good fall season as well, with our mums. We virtually sold out our mums as well, and again I think it is because more people are doing things at home.”

In addition to currently selling cut christmas trees, poinsettias, grave blankets, and other holiday items like wreaths and garland, the garden center offers a lot of “custom work” for people as well.

“Fortunately, that’s what helps us,” she added.

Lenz said they decided to cut back on the numbers of their poinsettias they’re offering this holiday season only because of the “trends” in the industry which she said is pointing more toward people buying poinsettias at the big box retailers.

Lenz said it is still a little too early to predict how business will be moving into this Christmas season, but she remains very hopeful for the future.

“I always hold out hope,” Lenz added.

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