It outlasted a World War, multiple recessions and decades of competition, but now Capital Nursery is closing its doors for good.
The nursery, founded in 1936, sold its flagship Freeport Boulevard store to neighboring Raley's earlier this year. Now its remaining Elk Grove and Citrus Heights stores are scheduled to close within 30 to 60 days.
"We successfully reorganized–moved all our best people to this store and Sunrise [Boulevard] from Freeport, but the business really didn't come back," said Charlie Armstrong, the manager of the Elk Grove store and the chain's landscaping division. "It's partly the time of year, partly the economy."
Armstrong, who has been working for Capital Nursery for 45 years, said homeowners have been more resistant to put money into landscaping, and have been opting to shop at big box retailers and do more work themselves when they do. He said the store's landscaping division is profitable, but overall the store is losing money every day.
"We've had recessions in the past and always survived those, but this one is a little worse because of the housing bubble bursting," he said. "People aren't spending the money."
He recalled some of the changes he's seen in 45 years with the company–a shifting in the popularity of various plants, a shift from growing many of their own plants to ordering almost all from wholesalers–and said many of their customers have been coming back for years.
"I've worked with customers that tell me they've been shopping there ever since they moved to California, or their children that are adults now say, 'My parents used to bring me here years ago,' and they're still shopping there," he said. "We definitely had a lot of loyal customers and they're going to miss us and we're going to miss them."
He said with the closure of the Freeport Boulevard store, at least there was a silver lining–the Elk Grove store wasn't too much farther for customers.
Armstrong said someone has made an offer to purchase the Citrus Heights store, but declined to say who. He hoped the Elk Grove store would stay open on its own, but the chain's board of directors decided "just having one store wouldn't be worth it in this market;" he said that property is now also for sale.
"We really wanted to make a go of it and turn it around, and I think we would have, but the board didn't see it the same way," he said.
About 65 employees will lose their jobs with the two closures, Armstrong estimated.
Capital Nursery will be offering a 50-percent discount on all remaining plants, and 40-percent off dry goods.