According to a 2018 Forbes Magazine article, around half of all businesses fail in the first five years. So although the article did not say how many businesses make it over 60 years, it seems safe …
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According to a 2018 Forbes Magazine article, around half of all businesses fail in the first five years.
So although the article did not say how many businesses make it over 60 years, it seems safe to say that Abner’s Garden Center in Wheat Ridge, which opened in 1957, is in rare company.
“We’ve had a real long run here, especially for a small business,” said Reed Becerra, who has run the garden center started by his father, Abner, since 2001.
But it’s a run that will soon come to an end as Becerra says the time is right for him to retire and he will be closing the garden center on by the end of September.
“I’m getting up there and I have no kids or anything to take over from me or anything like that,” he said of his decision. “So, it just seemed to be good timing.”
Still, saying goodbye to the shop, which has been a part of his life since he was a young second grader riding his bike on the lot where the garden center now sits when its first iteration was still located across the street, isn’t easy.
“A lot of customers have been crying and just really hate to see us go,” said Becerra. “They talk about old memories of my dad and when they were kids, it’s sort of sad even though I am excited too.”
Among those also feeling that sadness are longtime employees such as Nancy Faller, who has been working at the store since 2001.
Faller said the joy of Abner’s was captured for her by one longtime customer, who recently told her that the store “was never just a place you would go for a transaction.”
“They told me going to Abner’s was kind of like meeting up with friends,” she said.
Becerra, meanwhile, said he will miss both the plants and people, especially those who patronized Abner’s for decades.
“When you’re around long enough you start seeing the same people over and over again and then you start seeing their kids,” he said. “And it’s the same thing with the employees, I have some that started when they were teenagers and then they come back to shop and now they’ve got kids.”
Becerra said the shop went through its fair share of changes over the years from its early days as a roadside fruit and vegetable market back when 44th Avenue was one of the main thoroughfares to go up to the mountains, along with Colfax Avenue.
“People would come on their way to picnic and stuff and say you need to start handling some groceries and stuff so we can have picnics and stuff up here,” he said.
While longtime Abner’s shoppers won’t welcome the center’s closure, they might take some comfort that the space is staying local — and in the extended Abner’s family.
That’s because Becerra reached an agreement with the owners of Edward’s Meats, the meat market that started out operating out of Abner’s grocery store and now occupies the full former grocery store space adjacent to the current garden center, to buy the entire property.
Becerra said they are discussing using the space that currently houses Abner’s for additional storage, parking and, possibly, retail or dining space, although he was unsure if any definitive plans had been made.
Those needing a new place to buy a new plant or one of Abner’s trademark hanging flower baskets also won’t have to look far.
“We’ve been telling customers that once we’re gone and stuff to go see my brother at Young’s Garden Center, which is another independent garden center,” he said.
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