Hometown Nursery, a Paso Robles retailer since 1976, is closing its doors after 34 years.
Twelve employees from the garden center at 201 Spring St. will be let go, general manager Mike Mitchell said. At least one will be retained to continue to run Hometown Nursery & Landscape with Mitchell, he said, explaining the landscape construction and maintenance company will remain in business.
The retail center’s going-out-of-business sale began Aug. 23, and Mitchell expects its final day to come in mid-September before the property is deeded out of his family’s trust and back to Heritage Oaks Bank.
Bankruptcy and foreclosure were not involved, he said, and financials were not disclosed.
The nursery’s retail location, on an acre, first opened in August 2008, and featured a new 5,000-square-foot shop interior with furniture, pottery, plants and other gardening supplies. The nursery had previously operated on Spring Street between 18th and 19th streets since the late 1970s.
In 2009, shortly after the new location opened, Mitchell said sales dropped 28 percent and again by the same amount through July 31.
Mitchell said many factors contributed to the dip, including that people are not landscaping new homes during the recession.
The business “is almost all based on a customer’s discretionary income, and people are holding on to every penny,” he said.
The nursery has sold about three quarters of its stock during the closure sale, where items are now half price.
The landscaping division has always been a side business for Hometown Nursery, but it grew in 2009 and 2010, Mitchell said.
The Paso Robles-based company will continue to operate under the same phone number as the nursery and use the same vendors that stocked the retail portion of the company.
Mitchell hopes to reopen the retail nursery again one day, he said.
— Tonya Strickland
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Humankind Fair Trade, a store at 982 Monterey St. in downtown San Luis Obispo, will celebrate its first anniversary today.
Since opening last summer, HumanKind has provided about $35,000 to farmers and artisans in developing countries, according to Humankind Fair Trade board President Elizabeth Aebischer. For example, she said, 51-year-old Elizabeth Kumah, a bead artisan in Ghana, has increased her income by 80 percent.
The nonprofit store specializes in fair trade certified merchandise, such as jewelry from India, laptop bags from Nepal, olive oil from Palestinian territory in Israel, and fabrics from Guatemala, among other items from around the world.
— Julia Hickey