Retail Tipsheet: Warm winter means busy spring for Whatcom garden nurseries

The relatively warm winter may not have been great for skiers, but it has done wonders for the local gardening business.

Several Whatcom County nurseries are noticing very strong sales this spring as residents started paying attention to their yards much earlier than usual. Some residents started getting the gardening/landscaping bug at the end of February and early March, and the uptick in business hasn’t slowed down since.

Early in the season, employees at Kent’s Garden & Nursery had to discourage customers from buying annuals, warning them that a brief stint of hail or cold weather could wipe them out. Business has been brisk since then, and is expected to continue.

“People were really chomping at the bit to get going with outdoor projects,” said co-owner Ginny Crump. Kent’s is at 5428 Northwest Road.

When contacted last week for this column, Garden Spot owner Marcy Plattner was just finishing up work in a greenhouse, creating more flower baskets. She said it’s been a challenge keeping things in stock at her nursery at 900 Alabama St.

“This is one of the strongest years I’ve seen,” said Plattner, who has operated the Bellingham garden nursery for 25 years.

Margaret Rudy of d eWilde’s Nursery agreed that it has been busy; she also started seeing people working on spring projects in February. She expects things to remain busy up until school ends and people start turning their attention to summer vacations. The nursery is at 3410 Northwest Ave.

When it comes to figuring out what people are buying at nurseries, it appears to be all over the board. Rudy said she has been selling more fruit trees and material for vegetable gardens. Crump and Plattner have noticed an increase in new homeowners, as well as homebuilders and remodelers.

Despite the mild winter, there seemed to be a fair amount of plant damage that people are now replacing. Plattner added that customers are also willing to try out plants they haven’t seen before, so she’s always on the lookout for something different to entice them.

Demographics also seem to be wider than usual this year. One trend Lynn Pearson has noticed this year is more young people coming in, focusing on vegetables and fruits. That’s in addition to the uptick of older, established customers, said Pearson, who is the retail manager at Kent’s.


Plans are in the works for a new Lynden tap room with a focus on helping the planet’s water situation.

The owners of Overflow Taps are in negotiations to go into the Waples Mercantile Building at 444 Front St., which is being remodeled after being nearly destroyed by fire in June 2008. Owners Jesse Nelson, Adam Stacey and Josh Libolt envision it as a place people can hang out and have beer, wine and ciders, much of it locally produced. Nelson said it will have a coffeehouse vibe, where people can have an afternoon business meeting, and also be a place to meet friends and enjoy the evening.

The owners plan to donate 25 cents of every pint sold to organizations that help bring clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world.

Once negotiations are complete, Overflow Taps would join Village Books, Avenue Bread, Drizzle Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room and Paper Dreams as tenants in the retail portion of the building, which will also have a 35-room boutique inn. The building is scheduled to be ready in November.

Details about Overflow can be found at its Facebook page.


Ovn Wood Fired Pizza is continuing to get ready in the new building next to Fairhaven Village Inn. Owner Matt Brawner said he’s aiming for an August opening. Once open, the restaurant will offer Neapolitan-inspired pizza with seasonal local ingredients. ... Jun’s Sushi & Bento at 202 E. Holly St. (in the former Red Berry yogurt space) is nearly ready to open. Taylor Montgomery of Amazing Plumbing Heating Energy Solutions said final wiring work is being completed and it should be ready sometime this week. Once open, it will serve lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday with a lunch offering on Sunday. The owners are Jun Wom Bark and Yeong Kim, according to a state liquor license application. ... A food truck patio is getting going on Monday, May 18, at the Faithlife parking lot at the Bay Street and Champion Street intersection near Pickford Film Center. It will have picnic tables and planter boxes, along with one or two local food trucks from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays until Labor Day.