You all know by now that we are big supporters of fellow small business, and we have had a little blog series 'Our Lovely Stockists' going for a while now, previously featuring Car & Kitchen and Lakin & Boone.
Well this time we are delighted to be spilling the beans on another beautiful Yorkshire business, Harpins Garden Centre who stock a range of our greetings cards & homewares.
Tell me a little bit about your wonderful business…
We’re the Harpins, and our family runs an independent garden centre in Yorkshire; so that’s my husband, three grown-up children and myself. We sell outdoor plants and houseplants, have a little café serving meals, homemade cakes and bakes, and have also introduced a range of giftware and cards (including the beautiful Plewsy designs!).
And about you…
Simon (my husband) studied horticulture and plant sciences at university and always wanted his own business back in Yorkshire – he was an area manager of a large garden retail chain, but decided to make his dream come true in 2000. I took a career break to look after my youngest children, and then somehow got roped into the paperwork for the new business . We’ve been here for nearly twenty-one years now. My husband runs the plant-based side of the business and I have the great job of picking all the beautiful gifts we get to stock (but am also still stuck with the admin …!).
What is the story behind Harpins Garden Centre…
Simon was always frustrated with the way garden centres were not very customer friendly; with lots of Latin plant names, and no advice on how to plant or care for plants. We wanted Harpins to be a place where our customers, who love gardens but are unsure how to create and maintain one, can ask questions about plant care and have borders designed to their tastes and needs. We also felt that the industry is quite unsustainable, so we’re putting more of a focus on making positive changes to reduce our impact on the environment, to make sure our garden centre is truly ‘green’.
What is your favourite part of being a part of a family run business?
It’s lovely being able to spend so much time together, and you have such a close bond because you’re facing all of these challenges as a team. We’re the closest family I know, and I think part of that comes from having to face any difficulties the business faces together.
How have you adapted as a business during the pandemic?
The pandemic was, quite honestly, one of the most stressful periods of our lives. Not only did we have the issue that all shopkeepers shared, of being suddenly forced to close and having to furlough staff, but, because all of our plant babies are living stock, we had to make sure they could be watered every day in that blistering hot weather. Fortunately, we had customers who still wanted plant supplies, so we set up a telephone order service. It was so successful that we decided it was finally time to set up our own website, which is run by our daughter and based around our four principles: you can shop our garden designs created by experts for smaller, modern gardens, then buy everything you need in one click, with all information about plant care and planting provided, and then have your order delivered sustainably.
What inspires you in your day-to-day life?
All the flowers and plants! It’s such an important reminder of how quickly seasons change and how much beauty there is in nature. We’re also constantly reminded of the hard work and dedication of our team especially our store manager Jenna – they’re real life inspirations and the most incredible people to work with and we’re so indebted to them.
Tell me your favourite place to go in Yorkshire!
Fountains Abbey – If you haven’t been, you must! It’s great for avid gardeners; the Abbey was incorporated as a folly into the 18th century water gardens that surround it, so it’s garden design on an insane scale!
Brodsworth Hall - Over our twenty years of visiting it is wonderful to see how the gardens have been restored, and it’s worth a visit for the spring bedding displays alone.
Nostell Priory – It’s only ten minutes from us, and the gardens and wildlife are so pretty. When the kids were younger, we’d take them to the park to burn off all their energy, so I have such fond memories of seeing it in all seasons. You could always pop in and see us on the way!
Name 3 other independent businesses that you love.
We are so lucky to work with wonderful independent businesses including- Plewsy with beautiful, unusual cards and gifts.
Yorkshire Handbag Co – Julie designs all the bags herself and they’re really great quality.
The Village – Clifton . Run by my school friend Ruth, it’s such a lovely, quirky store full of personality and great gifts.
Skyliner - Our fave stop for a Friday night fish and chips!
Find out more about Harpins @harpinsgardens