Windemere Garden Center will close at season’s end
Landscape designer Kathy Olsen made her way through the nearly empty Windemere Garden Center on Friday doing her best not to let her emotions show. The popular Steamboat Springs business is scheduled to close at the end of the summer season.
“It’s going to make me cry,” said Olsen, who has been a longstanding Windemere customer. “I just can’t stop thinking that next year we won’t have this, and who will fulfill that need?”
Windemere got its start as Routt County Landscaping long before Talina Teixiera purchased the business and changed the name to Windemere Landscaping. She and her then husband bought the business in 1995.
“Routt County Landscaping had a garden center,” Teixiera said. “It was outside, and they had a couple of hoop houses, and I think a banquet table for the register. Then in ’99 we redid the walkways and then brought in the garden center.”
Windemere would continue to do landscaping until 2016 when Teixiera began phasing out that side of the business — mainly because she was having trouble finding people to do the work.
“It was a really big decision, but I’m glad I made it,” Teixiera said. “I felt more comfortable managing the garden center as opposed to doing landscaping.”
The garden center developed a dedicated following who quickly learned that Windemere offered a great selection of trees, shrubs and flowers — both annuals and perennial — as well as everything that was needed to plant, maintain and improve landscaping around a home.
“When people would come into Windemere, it was kind of like a zen experience because you feel that with these wonderful plants you could create your own magic in your own garden,” longtime employee Hope Cook said. “I’ve had a couple of women break down in tears when we told then this was our last summer.”
One of those women, Beverly Lehrer-Brennan, was shopping at Windemere on Friday.
“It’s sad,” Lehrer-Brennan said. “This was a great place to come. I love the flowers, and she had good plants, very good plants.”
Windermere employee Nancy Hummel knows both Lehrer-Brennan and Olsen by their first names, and her friendly, welcoming nature is one of the big reasons customers liked to visit the garden center. Hummel is just one of the veteran employees that Teixiera has hired over the past 26 years.
“It’s been a fun job because we see everyone and their uncle coming in here,” Hummel said from behind the store’s counter. “It’s great to help people with their gardens … we love encouraging people and helping them find plants and flowers and the other things they need.”
Teixiera said the core staff of five women has been a key to Windemere’s success.
“My core staff has been phenomenal, which allowed me to hire a couple of part-time people,” Teixiera said. “It’s been a good experience, and I cannot complain. I feel very fortunate.”
She is also grateful that the business allowed her to raise her two sons, Marcus, 33, and Jared, 31, in Steamboat. Jared was a regular at Windemere,and often helped his mom with the business. He returned to college this year to continue his education.
As Windemere enters the home stretch of its final season, the one thing that’s for certain is the garden center will be missed by its many loyal customers.
“It’s very disappointing and sad to see because it’s been one of those stable things that you would kind of count on in Steamboat,” Olsen said. “You knew that you could come here and find things that you need.”
Leaving that hole was one of the hardest parts of Teixiera’s decision to shut down the business.
“The hardest part is leaving that gap in the community,” Teixiera said. “But I knew in my heart, it was time for me to get out of the business. It was just the right time.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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