Our Beloved City People's: The Saga Continues
Did we have fireworks? Dancing in the street? Did the phoenix arise from the ashes? Perhaps the elation was only in our hearts when the neighborhood received an unexpected holiday gift: the extension of City People’s Garden Store’s lease. The joyful refrains heard throughout the community were certainly real.
The proposed construction at the site has passed the initial phase of the design review but has a few more steps to complete. Due to the slope and nature of the site, construction is only permitted during the dry months of the year. Thus, the building opportunity for 2017 will have passed. Instead of leaving the present building vacant and forlorn during this process, the owners of the land agreed to lease the space to City People’s. The lease runs through December 31, 2017 with options to extend again if the new project is not ready to move forward.
The City People’s Garden Store has two new owners: long time employees Jose Gonzales and Alison Greene. Jose and Alison are beloved and well-known faces at the Garden Store. Together with three investors, Jose and Alison were able to purchase the business from Steve Magley and Dianne Casper with a very generous deal. Steve and Dianne have stayed on as supportive consultants as the new owners evolve from gardeners to business owners/managers.
“It’s been a really steep learning curve”, Jose admits. He and Alison have been participating in a mentorship program through the national Small Business Administration. They meet monthly with their mentor to formulate their business plan and wade through the mountains of paperwork. “We are lucky to have a great mentor,” Jose said, “and we feel much more comfortable now with the business side of the garden store.”
Many of the previous employees have chosen to stay on with the garden store. They were able to continue at or above their previous salary and benefit program.
Jose and Alison envision the Gift Store’s inventory as a bit more streamlined but with all the usual elements in place. They will continue to offer delivery and potting-up services as well as special orders. The landscaping side of the business has been reinvented as a separate entity: The Peoples Gardening Collective. That business will move forward as a coop.
City Peeps, as the Garden Store is affectionately known continues to look for a new site. Given the current land availability in Seattle, this search has been a challenge. They envision a place that is about 15,000—25,000 sq. ft. with 2/3 of outside space and 1/3 inside. They enthusiastically encourage investors and any tips about promising available sites. They will keep the name City Peoples Garden Store.
Jose and Alison optimistically assert that City People’s Garden Store is “Here to stay! We have the passion and people to serve the community and want everyone to know we are here for them”. The staff and community are recovering from the trauma of last year’s sudden closing announcement and are ready to move forward.
Both the local community and Seattle at large wish to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Jose and Alison for their dedicated and bold move to breathe new life into City People’s Garden Store.
Author: Cathy Nunneley