Garden center to pull up stakes New owner, or old, is likely to reopen

December 14, 1992|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

After a decade of providing the supplies that helped Severna Park residents landscape yards and grow their gardens, Wentz Garden Center and Florist Shop is closing its doors.

For now, anyway.

Owner Bob Wentz said last week he plans to close the shop Dec. 26 or 27. He has found several potential buyers who probably would continue running a nursery at the site on Ritchie Highway, he said.

But if they don't come through by March, he said he would reopen as a limited, seasonal gardening center.

Mr. Wentz moved to Naples, Fla., last month and opened a gift shop. He was tired, he said, of working long hours at the nursery.

"Twelve hours a day for 10 years -- it's called burnout," he said in a telephone interview from his new Florida business, Golden Pelican Gifts. "It stopped being fun."

And trying to operate during a recession has been "like beating your head against the wall," he said.

If he reopens, he would sell mainly flowers, trees and shrubbery, "smaller items than I've had in the past," he said. "This neighborhood cannot support the higher-end stuff."

He would travel between his businesses until October, then close the garden center for the winter.

Last week, only a few employees remained at the center, including a florist, a delivery person and a landscape designer. Mr. Wentz let go most of the outdoor workers at the end of the landscape season.

"People have always looked forward to coming here," said the landscape designer, who identified himself only as Larry. "It's been one of the only nurseries that gives out a lot of information."

Larry, who has worked at the nursery for five years, complained that discount garden centers have become self-service, offering little information about the plants they sell.

"We have always had knowledgeable people," he said. "And people had come to expect it."

Before Mr. Wentz bought the business in 1983, it had been called Arundel Nurseries, operating as a garden center with a small florist department. Mr. Wentz expanded the florist services and added a gift shop.

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