BELLINGHAM - Bakerview Nursery & Garden Center will be closing at the end of September, ending 42 years of business.
Over the past weekend Larry and Toni Clark announced that they were going to retire to spend more time with family and friends, closing the nursery Monday, Sept. 30.
"It was an emotional roller-coaster for me," Toni Clark said of making the announcement to the employees. "They (the employees) are like family to us, which made it difficult to make this decision."
Bakerview Nursery first opened in the spring of 1972 at 945 E. Bakerview Road. At the time the area was sparsely developed, just a few homes and farms, but they suspected that Bellingham would grow in that direction. Since they opened the nursery, the biggest goal has been helping people become successful at gardening. That's what led them to build their own garden onsite, so customers could see how staff members handle various plants.
Those demonstrations, along with a big selection and a knowledgeable staff who can answer most any garden question, has made Bakerview nursery among the most popular garden centers in Whatcom County.
When the nursery first opened on the outskirts of Bellingham, it became a destination place right away because the community was already familiar with the Clark family, which developed Clark Feed & Seed as well as a "drive-in" nursery on State Street in 1957.
The Bakerview property became an ideal place to run a business as well as raise their children, Larry Clark said.
"Bakerview Nursery has given us and our children a wonderful, healthy life for the past 42 years," he said in a news release of the announcement. "We have met many wonderful people and have enjoyed seeing our customers' children visit us when they were young and then grow up and become homeowners and gardeners themselves."
The owners and staff have fielded thousands of questions over the years, including the vexing issue of keeping deer away from plants as well as the basics on gardening. Toni Clark rarely tired of the questions.
"Sometimes it seems repetitive, but people are so excited to get started. It's great to see," she said.
Breaking the news to employees was difficult, she said, because many have been at the store a long time and will now be looking for work.
"We wanted to give them some time (before closing) so they could look elsewhere for work," Toni Clark said. "We have qualified employees that would be an asset anywhere."
The Clarks are organizing a variety of promotions in the coming weeks and will gradually reduce prices at Bakerview Nursery. Toni Clark joked that everything is for sale except for Larry and Mrs. Millie, the 14-year-old cat that hangs out at the nursery.
The next steps for the property are up in the air. The Clarks are planning to sell the land, preferably to someone who might develop it in an eco- and community-friendly manner that makes use of the natural setting.
"We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this dream; with the friendships and help we've had through the years," Toni Clark said. "It's been wonderful."