by Kelly Gates
During the 1980s, Sun Valley, in the state of Idaho, emerged as a vacation mecca for celebrities and other wealthy individuals in search of a little luxury rest and relaxation time. As the area began to fill with vacation homes and condominiums, local residents Mike and Jan Turzian recognized the need for a full service garden center.
The couple opened Sun Valley Garden Center to cater to the ever-increasing development, offering everything from plants and garden supplies to a full service landscape design, installation and maintenance division.
“I had been a golf professional and Jan was an art major in college, so we took my love of grass and Jan’s appreciation of all things aesthetic and combined them into a business that made sense for the region,” Mike said. “There were a ton of high-end homes going up in Sun Valley, which was the first alpine ski resort area to be developed in the country. As a result, everyone needed landscaping done and we opened the garden center in town to supply what they needed.”
In the first year, the new business owners ordered 12 flats of flowers, 24 hand-dug aspen trees from Colorado and a handful of Colorado spruce. According to Mike, they were concerned they had purchased too much, blowing their entire budget.
But, business was good and the inventory sold quickly. Then, as more and more homes were built each year, additional items were added to the company’s mix to keep up with the growing demand.
“We grew around 20 percent per year as the valley took on a new shape with the addition of more vacation homes, condos, golf courses, restaurants and all of the other amenities that support communities like this,” said Mike. “Even though we started out very simple and small, we always offered a range of products and services so none of our customers needed to go elsewhere to fulfill their needs.”
From the beginning, it made sense to the Turzians to provide annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and premade and custom containers. Along with purveying plants, it also seemed suitable for them to offer installation of the plants. And, if the company was going to offer installation services, they needed to have maintenance services as well, said Mike.
The couple chose to bypass growing plant material on site. Ordering from other growers enabled their focus to remain on helping customers select the right plants and related products, as well as providing quality installation services.
“Because we are at an elevation of 6,000 feet, with heavy snow loads, growing our own plant material wasn’t the most viable option, so we chose to rely on growers in the Northwest to supply everything we sell,” he noted. “We have a horticulturist, Heike Striebeck, who manages our plant division while another employee, Fredy Quispe, handles our landscape and hardscape installations, including irrigation, patios, paths, rock walls, ponds, flower beds, fountains and other similar projects.”
Mike and Jan also have a son, Bryce, who is an integral part of the management team there. Currently, he is learning the ins and outs of the business in preparation for his parents’ eventual retirement.
Even though the company is in the midst of a resort area, with people coming and going from time to time, Sun Valley Garden Center’s staff remains busy year round. The in-house gift shop keeps customers coming back for the high quality soaps, lotions, candles, diffusers and a variety of unique products from companies like Dash and Albert Rugs, Kingsley Bate Furniture, Roost, Illume, April Cornell and Baggallini, among others.
During the winter holidays, the garden center is stocked with an array of decorations and gift items. Employees are also on hand to take customized home décor orders and some even deliver and arrange Christmas trees, lights and other accoutrements for patrons.
“We have over 300 customers each winter who place advance orders for Christmas trees that we hand select for them, making sure the quality, size and shape is just right,” said Mike. “We deliver the trees, hang Christmas lights and do whatever else our customers can think of that will allow them to arrive at their homes or condos with festive holiday decorations already in place.”
The combination of high quality plants and products, coupled with top-notch customer service has made Sun Valley Garden Center a successful business for more than 30 years. And it is this same blend of goods and client care that will undoubtedly allow the company to continue on for many more.
Sun Valley Garden Center
by Kelly Gates