Leanne Johnson never dreamed she would helm one of B.C.'s most popular garden stores.
Now, a few decades later, the Coquitlam native is coming home to the city where she grew up and to the same building where she got her first job.
Johnson is president of GardenWorks that, in March, plans to open its ninth location. Its Coquitlam store will be at 2595 Barnet Hwy. (Highway 7A), in the parking lot of the Eagle Ridge GM dealership.
Johnson called the Tri-City News to confirm the details of the new shop opening up and to talk about her connections to the city.
Her business partner, Scott Pearce, lives nearby in Port Moody, so it was a no-brainer for the duo to launch in Coquitlam.
However, it took years to find a good site, said Johnson, and when she did find the right spot, Johnson was immediately nostalgic.
Johnson told the Tri-City News she grew up a few blocks from the area, and she got her first job in the same building as a 16-year-old Centennial high school student.
Back in 1980, however, it was Mother's Pizza.
"You can imagine the amazing experience it was for me to go back after 41 years and walk into that building and visualizing it as a garden centre, as a GardenWorks," said Johnson.
Work will soon be underway to turn the building into a GardenWorks centre with outdoor and indoor plants, including trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials and tropical plants, gardening supplies and gifts, such as pottery.
One notable feature will be a botanical bar.
"As soon as safety allows, we will allow small groups to get creative and create one-of-a-kind projects," said Johnson.
In the background, her staff have been busy obtaining the permits for renovations to the building and, while many experienced staff will come from other shops, there will be opportunities for local young people to get hired for seasonal work at GardenWorks.
Johnson said she's excited to finally find a location in Coquitlam and is planning another shop in North Vancouver, where she now lives.
With gardening becoming so popular during the pandemic, Johnson believes people will welcome a shop that specializes in plants and gardening information.
"During the pandemic it was underscored just how important nature is for everybody, and how many brand new gardeners we’ve seen over the past few years has been incredible."
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