New Brunswick

Some garden centres struggling to keep shelves stocked, business continues to boom

While many people are struggling to get back on their feet following two months of nationwide shutdowns, garden centres and nurseries are still trying to keep plants in stock. 

Bob Osborne owner of Corn Hill Nursery said initially he was worried about bankruptcy.

Garden centre owners in New Brunswick feared for their businesses once the pandemic swept into the province, but they were surprised to see a surge in demand. (Pexels)

While many people are struggling to get back on their feet following two months of nationwide shutdowns, garden centres and nurseries are still trying to keep plants in stock. 

Andrew Currie, owner of Currie's Greenhouses in Douglas, said in more than 35 years of business the greenhouse has never seen anything like it. 

"A lot of new gardeners, people that have never gardened or planted a plant in their lives were coming in and asking umpteen questions about how to plant, where to plant and what they'd need to have a continuous supply of vegetables for the summer," he told Information Morning Fredericton

Duncan Kelbaugh owns Brunswick Nurseries in Quispamsis and has had trouble keeping the shelves stocked. 

Duncan Kelbaugh, owner of Brunswick Nurseries, said he canceled some of his spring orders but now can barely keep up with demand. (Brunswick Nurseries/Facebook )

He initially cancelled orders in preparation for a slower season but said sales have almost doubled. Then his suppliers couldn't keep up. 

"People weren't buying initially and then once they saw what was going on the suppliers were running out of everything." 

Fresh vegetables 

Vegetable and fruit plants have been the hardest item for everyone to keep in stock.

Currie said he expects that people wanted some extra food security so they decided to try to grow their own food. 

While demand for fruits and vegetables have been the highest, now even some perennials and shrubs are in low supply. (Submitted by Brunswick Nurseries )

"They were concerned about COVID, about having their own food," he said. "Maybe not a total supply, but at least they could dabble in growing a few things." 

Kelbaugh compared the buying of vegetable plants to the rush to buy toilet paper that occurred during the early days of the pandemic. He said surge was also partly related to people just having more time on their hands. 

Initial concerns

The owner of Corn Hill Nursery, located in rural Cornhill northwest of Sussex, said he thought the shutdowns would force his business to go bankrupt. Bob Osborne started to feel like all the work he'd put into his business had been for nothing. 

Once he realized his business was doing better than usual, he felt immense relief.

"It's like thinking you're falling off a cliff but somebody who's got a net underneath you surprises you and catches you." 

That feeling came with some guilt.

"There is sort of a guilt feeling. We are so busy and other people I know are not. It's a roll of the dice." 

Kelbaugh was so worried about business that he cancelled all of his paid advertisements for spring but said it's the busiest season he's seen in his 44 years. 

The nursery owners hope that once the pandemic passes new gardeners will hold onto their newfound hobbies. 

"Once you get gardening into your blood, it gets really hard to get rid of it," said Osborne. "I think a lot of people are really enjoying all of the aspects of gardening. Being outdoors, seeing the colours, watching things grow."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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