The new store looked a lot like Christmas.

Green and red decorations abounded, and the scent of pine from candles and wreaths was strong enough to penetrate a customer's mask. Dee Ott was at the service counter putting together decorations for the upcoming holiday. An adjacent greenhouse had dozens of poinsettias for sale, along with pansy seedlings, succulents and hanging plants.

For Geigertown Greenhouse Inc., the warm holiday atmosphere is certainly appropriate as the Union Township business is capping what Ott described as a good year. Even though 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic, has been tough for many small businesses, it has been a profitable one for Geigertown Greenhouse. 

Enough that the new retail space was added in the fall along with a new greenhouse.

Ott, who has run the business with her family for more than 40 years, said the new retail space was needed. Construction on the 14- by 24-foot building began in October and it opened just after Thanksgiving. Using a local contractor, Ott said the building was up in a couple of weeks.

"We had a fantastic spring, even though COVID had hit, and (the older retail space) just wasn't big enough for people," Ott said. "So we decided to expand so we could see out into the parking lot and we could watch our other greenhouses. That was our main reason: we needed more room."

Besides an expanded number of gifts and crafts, artisan furniture from Country Additions, Birdsboro, is featured.

Also part of the recent construction was the company's 27th greenhouse on the company's 36 acres.

"We grow about 8,000 to 9,000 hanging baskets, geraniums, all kinds of bedding plants, vegetables, herbs, there's so much we grow," Ott said.

That variety was the reason Geigertown Greenhouse was able to weather the pandemic. 

"They made a lot of garden centers close down," Ott said of the state's closure order back in the spring. "Because we grow vegetables and herbs we were considered essential."

The expansion should put Geigertown Greenhouse in a good position as the economy rebounds from the pandemic. According to IBIS World, nursery and garden stores should rebound from the turmoil.

"Increased consumer spending and strong housing and construction markets are projected to bolster demand for industry goods," the report said. "However, heightened external competition from big-box stores is anticipated to continue to threaten industry operators. As big-box stores continue to offer lower prices, industry operators will likely need to strengthen their position within their local communities to compete."

Ott said about 85% of Geigertown Greenhouse's business is wholesale, selling plants to other garden centers (but not to big-box stores) and 15% retail.

Ott said the latest expansion will likely be the company's last.

"We had two small greenhouses when we bought the property and kept expanding from there," she said. "We're done, we're not putting up any more greenhouses."

In the future, the plan is to keep Geigertown Greenhouse in the family. Ott runs the business with her husband, Nelson, and son, Nelson Jr., along with granddaughter Makayla and her boyfriend Cody Endy.

"Hopefully we will pass the baton," Dee Ott said.

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