From the Akron Beacon Journal:
After 66 years, Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center in Akron is closing.
“We are sad to announce that Donzell’s Garden Center is closing. A long-time presence on Waterloo Road, the company has decided to close its doors forever,” the Donzelli family said in a news release Monday.
“While the company has enjoyed healthy business during the spring and holiday seasons, the summer and fall seasons have become increasingly quiet and financially, this location has fallen below acceptable levels,” the family said in the news release. “A contributing factor to the poor performance has been isolation from other specialty stores to increase needed store traffic. In addition, garden centers depend on new housing starts to fuel their growth and there has been minimal growth in this area."
“This trend has been most obvious to us since the recession of 2007; around 2010 when other retailers returned to their pre-recession store traffic and growth levels, this location did not. The property is currently for sale.
“We, the Donzelli family, love our industry and are grateful for 66 years of serving the surrounding communities. We will miss our many long-time customers; many have been patrons of our business for decades. We plan to help our full-time staff find new positions and some will be relocated to our Cleveland location, Gale’s Westlake Garden Center, which the family also owns and operates.”
Julie DiFeo, family spokesperson and vice president of Donzell’s Garden Center says the store closing has been in sight for a long time, and while they explored every option to prevent the closing — like researching future demographics and business endeavors five to 10 years out — they were informed by the city council and local realtors that nothing was on the horizon.
“It’s not even that new businesses didn’t come in, population has left,” DiFeo says. “People are going to different states looking for work so it’s not that folks here are in a different demographic; there’s simply no folks here at all. There’s a loss of jobs, therefore, the people us retailers depend on to support our businesses don’t exist.”
Usually, closing a store is difficult for owners and employees, but DiFeo says it’s been “calm and positive.” Out of their 15 full-time employees, two are retiring, three are going to Gale’s Westlake Garden Center, and they’re helping others find new positions. “We’ve honored all of our obligations, including vacation time and the employees are very supportive. I think it’s this way because we’ve all seen it coming,” DiFeo says.
Donzell’s is currently in the process of negotiating a buyer in a different industry and while DiFeo says it won’t be the same as a neighborhood garden center, she thinks it’ll be good for the location. “Our goal is to put somebody in here who fits the locale, would be positive for the neighborhood and would supply jobs,” she says. “It’s important to us not to leave an empty space where there was once some place that people loved.”
DiFeo says she doesn’t think their situation is representative of the industry but has advice to other garden centers that may be experiencing the same challenges as Donzell’s.
“Be open to moving. You’ve got to go where there’s business to support your business,” DiFeo says. “Don’t hang on just because of the memories. It’s difficult to separate business and have to operate as a business, but when it’s profitable, you have to make difficult decisions.”
The store will begin liquidation sales sometime in June. The family directed customers to its Donzell’s Facebook page when it will post details for store hours and liquidation policies on Friday. The family also said for more information, customers may email email@example.com.
You can read more about the store closing here.