Philips’ Seeds to close
In rather abrupt fashion, Tom and Patty Harmon decided there would not be ‘just one more spring’. The couple had considered retiring for some time, but the draw of blooms and greenery and seeds poking out of the ground kept them returning to Philips' Seeds & Garden Center every spring.
“The big decision was made Friday,” said Patty. “Don’t make us cry.”
A series of events fell into place, making 2013 the right time to close the proverbial garden gate on their 30 years in business. They have priced everything on sale to liquidate the inventory, and hope to put the business on the market within a month. A last resort is just to sell the property. The Harmons also have a house to sell, and then will move to a small town right on Lake Michigan. Both originally from the midwest, they have relatives in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Over the summer, an idea popped into Patty’s head while Tom was out of town. He had always wanted a bigger kitchen and she wanted a bigger property. She remembered a home on 10 acres that had been for sale in her brother’s town a year and a half ago. He said it was still available.
They looked it up on the internet, and used a vacation to take a closer look. The spot was perfect. So Michigan it was.
Leaving behind their lives' work is emotional for the two, but they are also excited by what is to come. Both are horticulturists, and have been involved in plant work since childhood.
"It's been wonderful," said Patty. "It's all we know."
Tom added, "We say it's a disease. It's who we are. We love it so much."
They held on to the business, in part, out of loyalty to Greencastle and to their employees. They are thrilled with the support of the community through the decades, and the many friends they have made. With the decision, they now are adjusting to another outlook. They don't have to think business every waking moment. They visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square on Sunday.
"For the first time, I could look and just enjoy it and not think about reselling or pots and plantings. It is a huge, different mindset. It's going to be nice," Tom said.
At their new home, Tom, 66, will add on to the existing garden. Patty, 53, plans to get a job. She noted they would miss Greencastle.
"We love this area," Tom said, "but our family is in the midwest."