Pandemic payoff: Garden and landscape companies expect another good year
LONDON, ONT. -- Just over a year ago, local garden centres and landscaping supply firms were nervous about the future.
Emerging from lockdown, they feared business would dry up.
But instead, 2020 created the opposite effect.
Business for both boomed.
Lynne Kring, the general manager of London’s Parkway Garden Centre, says it's been quite a year.
Preparing for the 2021 season, she recalls the uncertainty she and her staff faced in early May 2020.
“For the first two weeks it was bad. We anticipated layoffs, and we wondered, were we going to be able to keep the business open.”
But quickly things changed dramatically.
Business - at all garden centres - picked up through the spring and into the summer.
Lynne Kring, general manager of Parkway Garden Centre just west of London, Ont., speaks Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
Depending on the month, Kring says sales at Parkway Garden Centre went up by 30 per cent or more.
“We were above and beyond what we have ever done before. Everybody was anxious to get into their gardens and plant their annuals. So the whole garden centre was just booming.”
The rush to spruce up the outdoor did not stop at the garden centres.
Landscaping supply companies also got a financial boost from 2020.
Once again, they had not been expecting it in the spring.
Jason VanRybroeck of V&P’s Topsoil & Landscaping told CTV News London in May, he was cutting back.
"This is the first season in 14 years that I have not hired a single [new] employee, just not knowing what we’re going into."
But VanRybroeck said Tuesday, the business actually needed more staff to meet demand.
“We ended up having the busiest spring we’ve ever had in 15 years.”
It’s a trend that continues into 2021.
But with more customers, comes a new problem: supply.
Some product has been hard to get.
“As a lot of our stone product comes from Quebec and they’ve been shut down most of the winter and it’s going to make for a very trying year.”
Still being busy beats the alternative for both businesses.
At Parkway Gardens. Kring says staff numbers have climbed, even though a set number of customers are permitted inside the greenhouses.
“Right now we’re at 45, but as the spring progresses obviously we will increase the numbers.”