Orléans garden centre closing after 60 years
Husband and wife owners of J.A. Laporte Flowers and Nursery hanging up their gardening shears
After 60 years of nurturing and selling countless plants and blooms, as well as dispensing gardening tips to thousands of local green thumbs, J.A. Laporte Flowers and Nursery in Orléans has closed.
Founded in 1960 by Thérèse and Roger Laporte, the mom and pop organization grew from one to 17 greenhouses, cultivating thousands of plant varieties.
"It's not a decision we made lightly," said Jean Laporte, who along with his wife Estelle Laporte, took over the family business from his parents almost 40 years ago.
The pandemic and the restrictions it brought to businesses created a number of challenges, including forcing the garden centre to reduce staff from 27 to six people and moving to curbside service.
"We worked seven days a week, 16, 18 hours a day to maintain those greenhouses," said Jean.
And although curbside business was brisk, with an estimated 500 customer orders served daily, it was exhausting.
"I've said to myself that I would never go through a curbside year again," said Jean. "I mean, we'd be open till 4 p.m. and we'd go home full dead, like never before. "
Customers thank the owners
Long-time customers have flooded the company's Facebook page with good wishes, but also notes of sadness.
"I have cried just hearing the overwhelming response that we're getting that is so heartfelt," said Estelle, who said before the pandemic, she'd greet returning clients as friends with smiles and even hugs.
But the joy she felt helping customers make choices about what to plant disappeared with physical distancing rules.
"It broke my heart when I would have to stand outside and run to the cars with orders," said Estelle. "I'd see customers in the distance waving at me and I couldn't get close to them."
Jean said the most difficult aspect of the decision was telling his 95-year-old father, who started the family business so long ago, about the closure.
Jean said when he visited his father and told him the decision was made for the good of the family, he understood.
"He took it quite well. I was quite surprised and very happy of course."