By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD — A bad economy, a poor summer growing season and changing gardening habits — all contributed to the closing of Emery’s Garden.
“It’s just the perfect storm,” said Amy Tullis, garden center director for Emery’s.
The Lynnwood nursery and retail store will close by mid-December at the latest. But, with a clearance sale under way, Emery’s could close within a month, Tullis said.
“We’ve had good years and bad years,” she said.
But tough economic times have meant that more and more people are turning to big box stores for their gardening supplies. Gardeners shop at Costco, Lowe’s or Fred Meyer for plants but then come to Emery’s for advice on how to tend to the flowers, shrubs and vegetable starts they’ve bought elsewhere, Tullis said.
“Everyone wants something on sale,” she said.
The lack of warm summer weather this year didn’t help matters. For nurseries, “if you don’t make all your money in the summer, you’re in trouble,” Tullis said.
The store opened as Emery’s Garden in 1997 after owner, Emery Rhodes, bought the nursery from the Uyeda family. The Uyedas, who had immigrated from Japan, started their garden shop, located at 2829 164th St. SW, in 1963 when 164th Street was still a gravel road.
Tullis doubts the location will remain a nursery when it’s sold. She wouldn’t be surprised if the land, which sits on a busy intersection across from Fred Meyer, will be turned into a strip mall or condos.
“It’s just sad,” Tullis said. “We felt we were good for the community.”
Barbara Chase of Edmonds, agreed that Emery’s had been good for local gardeners, noting that she had taught classes there as a master gardener. On Oct. 12, Chase had just returned from a master gardener meeting during which the closing of Emery’s was lamented. “People liked the nursery,” she said. “We’ll miss them.”
Fellow gardener Walter Thompson noted the personal attention that people would get while shopping at Emery’s as compared to big box stores.
“They had stuff that you wouldn’t find elsewhere,” he said.
When Chase landscaped her home 10 years ago, she followed Emery’s hedge recommendations, which differed from other stores. She liked the results.
However, Emery’s Tullis said that fewer and fewer people own property large enough that allows them to support landscaping and gardens. Tree sales at Emery’s have been declining for years, she said.
And, while Thompson appreciated the variety of plants he found at Emery’s, Tullis said that fewer people have been interested in harder-to-find plants. Instead, the most common question Tullis hears: “What’s on sale?”
About 12 full-time employees will lose their jobs with the closing of Emery’s. During the spring and summer, Emery’s also would hire another 12 to 15 seasonal employees.
“It’s kind of upsetting to think that kind of store, that kind of local facility, is going to disappear,” Thompson said.