Visitors to Alternative Garden Centre’s location at 34th St. and Patricia Ave. might have noticed a few new additions to the site.
The business recently finished the construction of five new greenhouses and a new entranceway, bringing their total to eight.
Co-owner Karin Griffin told the Sun earlier this week that the new greenhouses, for which work started in December, have been helpful immediately.
With greenhouses and garden centres being labelled as essential services, the extra greenhouses have allowed the businesses to spread out their products to encourage social distancing.
"It’s just easy to find things," Griffin said about the addition.
Greenhouses weren’t originally allowed to be open under COVID-19 rules, only getting the go-ahead on April 17. Griffin said that the timing of the announcement gave them an opportunity to get things set up for spring.
"It worked out," she said. Under the preventive measures put in place, customers at Alternative are asked to take a cart so staff can keep track of how many people are in the business at once and encourage distancing between customers. There are also arrows on the ground to direct traffic in a way that encourages distancing.
More than just spreading out, the expansion allowed Alternative to close their second location in Brandon’s north end on 18th Street. The business still has the same stock, but it’s now all in one location.
Now that the greenhouses are set up, Alternative is looking at bringing in more tropical and warm weather plants for sale in July and August. Two of the greenhouses can be closed off from the others and will be used in the wintertime to house Christmas trees.
It’s been busy since the new greenhouses opened, but Griffin isn’t sure if it’s an overall increase in traffic or just a combination of business from both locations being directed into a single place. However, she has noticed a lot of new gardeners taking the pandemic as a reason to get into the hobby, with materials for starting vegetable gardens being most popular right now.
Griffin said the main thing she has heard from customers checking out the new digs is "wow."
"That’s what we get when people walk in," Griffin said. "‘Wow, you guys made this really nice.’"
» Twitter: @ColinSlark