Garden center calls it quits

Published 9:01 am Friday, March 26, 2010

FRANKLIN—A lot of tears, prayers and sleepless nights led to the decision to close Franklin Lawn & Garden Center on March 13.

“I think you’re going to see more and more of this happen with small business,” said Gwen Overby, whose son, Justin, had owned the store on General Thomas Highway since 2003.

Justin Overby will continue to operate Justin’s Lawn Service. His mother has moved her floral-arranging business to her home.

The Overbys will sell the store’s inventory during a 10 a.m. Saturday auction at the garden center.

Amark Auction in Courtland is handling the sale, which will include a 20-by 20-foot metal building, two carports, wind chimes, flags, yard décor, landscape stones, pavers, patios, birdbaths, birdhouses, horse grooming items, baskets, Christmas items, Virginia Tech chairs, picnic tables, lawn and garden chemicals and more.

“We felt (an auction) was the best way to reduce the inventory to nothing, and Amark has an excellent reputation for being able to sell, and we could do it on site,” Gwen Overby said.

Justin Overby started his landscaping business in 1997 and took over Franklin Lawn and Garden Center six years later from founder Ray Smith, who operated the business for 10 years.

The economy, combined with 66-year-old Gwen Overby’s desire to no longer work seven days a week, led to the decision to close the garden center, Justin Overby said.

“It was a lot of thought and prayer that went behind it,” he said. “Some say we are doing the right thing.”

“There’s only a handful of independent garden centers left in Virginia,” Gwen Overby added. “Even the big ones are suffering with no one building.”

Justin Overby, who does landscaping in eastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, plans to sell mulch and topsoil from the closed garden center’s location.

His mother isn’t about to give up her floral business.

“I don’t want it to fall by the wayside,” Gwen said. “It’s pleasure for me. It’s what I enjoy.”

She can continue to be reached at the telephone number for Franklin Lawn and Garden Center, which is 562-0186.