SPRAINBROOK NURSERY IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
With tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart I am forced to make the gut-wrenching announcement that after 68 years of serving the horticultural community Sprainbrook Nursery is closing its doors. This will be our last fall season. We will be going out of business at the end of the year because of economic reasons. I wish this were not true but unfortunately it is.
The handwriting was on the wall for a long time but I’m not a person to give in easily. I ended up pouring all my recourses back into Sprainbrook Nursery. My hope was to be able to weather the storm and turn the tide. I knew I could bring the business back into full potential. I knew I had the knowledge, the talent and the hard work ethic that my parents instilled in me. I am a person who could fight back, for losing is not in my DNA. I also knew that this spring would be a do-or-die season so I set out with a positive attitude to produce a great crop of plants and win the battle. In some ways our hard worked paid off. The quality, the diversity and the beauty were there but the economy just wasn’t. Sprainbrook Nursery customers are the best; they are loyal and passionate about gardening and I love them dearly. Unfortunately there are not enough of them to sustain the business.
The old fashioned Garden centers concerned with plant quality, variety and a knowledgeable horticultural staff are no longer supported by the large majority of people. Garden Centers as we knew them are slowly becoming obsolete in an environment where plants are being sold at every retail outlet. Many are convenience or impulse sales outlets. However they make an impact. Homeowners are relying on two people in the family to work. They employ gardeners and when they need a plant or product they choose to have them do the work rather than buying the product or service from the Garden Center. Garden Centers are a sad casualty of the times as the pendulum swings to alternative buying patterns. In the process, a trip to the Garden Center is being bypassed.
We worked hard this year, as we knew it was a make-or-break year for us. Production was up but sales were not. We are a spring business and we rely on a good season to carry us through the year. Due to the economic recession our sales have dropped and our costs continue to rise. With health insurance, rising fuel prices, a huge jump in water bills and a very high property tax for the area we are battling huge costs before we ever open the doors.
I am sharing this narrative so you understand that I did not give up easily or willingly and would have continued if I possibly could. I always thought if I could hang in there long enough, other Garden Centers would go out of business and the few of us left would be in demand and able to survive. Unfortunately I have become one of the early casualties. The changing times have left me with no other choice but to close the doors and put Sprainbrook Nursery up for sale. I share this with you because I want you to understand this was a forced decision not a personal choice. Sprainbrook has been my life and I had hoped it would be able to take care of me until my death. This is not meant to be.
I feel badly for my loyal customers. You have become my friends and my inspiration. I will miss you and I know you will miss Sprainbrook. I feel sad for my loyal staff. Many have been with me for 25-40 years. They are the best in the industry and they are what made Sprainbrook special.
Although this last month has been difficult on me, finding myself going through phases of mourning, depression, distress, disbelief and the reality that the nursery will close, I have no personal regrets. I lived a great productive and fulfilling life because of Sprainbrook. I was brought up at the nursery and I had a great childhood here. I entered a business and a profession where each day was a challenge but a pleasure. I enjoyed going to work every day. I spent every moment surrounded by beautiful plants. I was able to graduate from Cornell with a great horticultural education. I got to work in a family business with my parents and enjoyed my mother’s daily company until she died at age 95. I was able to raise my children at the nursery, have them go through the Edgemont School District and was able to pay for their college education. They turned out to be two great kids. I have a lovely and beautiful wife, best friend and business partner. She stuck with me to the end. I enjoy my customers and the relationship I was able to build with them.
12 STEPS TO NATURAL GARDENING
I was able to hang in there long enough to write my book “12 Steps To Natural Gardening”. If I had given up earlier this would never have happened. I think the book has a powerful message to convey and I am dedicated to spreading the word for an organic approach to gardening. Our environment and our health are important and I believe if we are going to make a change, we all need to work together.
I went through a process of change in my own growing operation and I witnessed the difference. Once I made the change I set out to develop a blueprint that other people could follow so they could also make the change. I have written programs to follow that will make your garden more beautiful. The organic approach will insure a healthy environment for your children to grow up in, your animals to play on and your family to live in. We need to be good to our earth and put back into it the organic supplements that will perpetuate life. We need to stop destroying it with our chemical and pesticide applications. We need to be conscious of the food web and the teeming life that exists there. The book is filled with formulas, calendars and advice. I have tested my formulas in the field and followed my calendar to test and tweak my programs.
Even without Sprainbrook Nursery, the book can guide you through a process of how to grow beautiful plants the natural way. My daughter in California gave her colleague a copy of the book. She wrote my daughter an email stating that she fell in love with the book and it has become her bible. She is overjoyed with the results she has achieved. My hope is that everyone who hasn’t purchased my book will, and those who have will pass the information along to others. There will always be a part of me in it and I always want me to be a part of you. In its pages I will still be able to answer most of your gardening questions.
The information in this book was written to help you become a better gardener. A customer said it is so easy to have a beautiful garden when you do everything organic. She said, “It is incredible how everything flourishes. It is amazing” she claimed. She said “how few people realize how to make the simple switch”. I learned this the hard way but once I made the choice to follow an organic program I never turned back. My commitment is to spread the word to as many people as I can that we all need to change to a natural approach.
At age 77 there is not much more time to get the job done. I need your help, read the book and help me spread the word. I need to get a book review by a national name so it can reach a larger audience. We are all in this together and we all need to work together to solve this problem. “12 Steps To Natural Gardening” is available at the nursery as well as on line at:
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING?
I am trying to sell Sprainbrook Nursery as a nursery. I have written a letter to prospective buyers. If interested you can read it or send it on to someone else you may think would be interested. It is viewable at: http://www.sprainbrook.com/sprainbrookforsale.pdf
This would be the best ending to a sad situation. If we could sell the Nursery to someone who would carry on the organic approach, we could continue and promote the movement.
My sister is a Real Estate broker and will be listing the nursery for sale under multiple listings this month. We welcome anybody in the real estate field to contact us. I am having a difficult time finding lists of potential buyers. Please contact Norma Weisbrich at email@example.com or call her at 203-536-2540 with any interest or leads
What will happen to my employees? If we sell it as a nursery hopefully many of the employees will stay on, if this does not happen and the property goes for Real Estate, many will go into business on their own. If they do, I will keep you informed of their where-abouts and their business addresses. You will want to contact them and hire them before others do. They are the best and most knowledgeable in the horticultural field. Many people who have worked at Sprainbrook have gone out to some amazing horticultural jobs. Sprainbrook, just by the way it is structured, is a learning center. We grow our own plants and know the trials and tribulations involved in that. Our philosophy has been to provide our customers with lots of information and a wide selection of quality plants. I am proud that everyone at Sprainbrook is a part of this process and thus everyone in order to keep up has received a great Sprainbrook education.
I will continue keep you posted in my emails and Facebook posts and I will continue to write Krautter’s Korner Monthly News Letter. I will maintain http://www.sprainbrook.com and will keep http://www.gardeningthings.com open where you can shop on-line for your organic gardening supplies. I am dedicated to keeping you informed.
We will not be turning on the heat this year so we will not be growing Poinsettias nor doing a Christmas business. We are placing almost everything on a huge sale including fall landscape jobs. We will list details in September Krautter’s Korner. We have a huge amount of beautiful inventory to sell off.
I will set up an extensive fall lecture series. It will be the last at Sprainbrook so I hope you can attend. It gives me one last chance to talk with you about these subjects here at home in the Nursery. The lectures are free and I look forward to passing this information on to you.
Take advantage of the fall sales; pay us lots of visits as we try to clear out our inventory. There are lots of beautiful plants that need a home and lots of supply items that can be bought at reduced prices.
I am taking it one day at a time as I realize life takes many twists and turns. I am not sure where the next turn will lead but I will follow it moving in as forward a direction as I can.
Hopefully I will see you this fall. No matter how it turns out, I would like to thank you for making my life such a pleasant one. I have been blessed for 77 years and you have played an integral part in making it worthwhile, enjoyable and productive.
Meanwhile there still is a lot of fall gardening we have to do.