Garden center grows with a little TLC

TLC Garden Center in Laharpe is expanding.

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January 22, 2020 - 1:22 PM

Savannah and Levi Flory are adding a new retail center and two new greenhouses at TLC Garden Center in LaHarpe. Photo by Vickie Moss

LAHARPE — Windows make for happy houseplants.

The plants at TLC Greenhouse soon will be just a little bit happier, courtesy of a new building and two new greenhouses that give them more sunlight and space to spread out.

TLC owners Savannah and Levi Flory are building new structures, in part because of necessity and in part to allow for future growth. The improvements include a new retail sales building with several large windows to allow for more natural light, and a large porch across the front to display products.

“Our goal is to sell more houseplants,” Levi said.

“And we wanted a building that made more of a statement,” Savannah said. “With the highway frontage, we had people stop in every day last summer and say they’d never been in before. We’ve expanded the outside quite a bit, so now it’s time to make the building look more like a business.”

In addition to the new building, they’re also adding two new greenhouses, making a total of five at the business.

The two new greenhouses will be used to grow plants from seed, initially to sell at TLC. Savannah hopes to eventually offer plants and seeds for wholesale to other companies or online.

They started growing their own annual plants a couple of years ago, when their wholesale supplier closed. They planned to slowly test the waters, as growing their own plants allows them to offer a greater variety to customers. That’s been successful enough to take the next step in expanding greenhouses.

TLC already has three greenhouses, with two used for retail plant sales and the third used for growing plants. The new additions mean they can reopen the third greenhouse for retail sales. 

PART OF the former building was demolished in December, and a new metal building is being constructed in its place. The new building will be similar in size — 50 foot by 50 foot — but will provide more space because of a new configuration. 

The former building has had several iterations as a business, including a bar, a carpet store and a flea market. 

“It served its purpose for us, but I’m really glad to get something bigger and better,” Savannah said.

Savannah’s mother, Corinna Heard, opened TLC Greenhouse in 2000. After she died in 2006, Savannah came home from college to operate the business. Levi followed after the two of them graduated from Kansas State University in 2007.

The building was constructed in two parts that met in the middle, but the two roofs never quite lined up right. That meant a constant battle with leaks during rainy weather, and a sagging roof that required more and more support beams. Those beams took up space and made it awkward to navigate for retail space. 

After exploring options to fix the leaky roof, the couple decided instead to replace the addition, leaving the original building for use as storage and offices.

The couple hopes the building will be completed in February, in time to complete finishing touches like painting and shelving before the busy growing season begins in the spring. Savannah hopes it will be at least partially ready by Valentine’s Day, when TLC sells cut flowers. 

TLC will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. An open house and celebration is tentatively planned for April. 

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