Forty years ago, Dan and Fran Watson were two transplants from Colorado, and they worked in the Tacoma School District. They also happened to love gardening and selling fuchsia baskets and vegetables from their front yard.
On Valentine’s Day in 1984, their passion blossomed into a business called Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery. Thirty years later, the business along Pioneer Way East in Puyallup is going strong. It’s home to a 32,000-square-foot covered retail space and sells everything from annuals to perennials to home decor.
“We certainly are a destination place and have a broad customer base,” said co-owner Maidee Watson, a daughter of Dan and Fran Watson.
The covered retail space was launched in 1999 and furnished by a Belgium company. Watson’s also boasts an acre of outdoor nursery space, where plants and shrubs are displayed.
Watson’s focuses on growing its own annuals. Dan, who sold the company to his daughters, including Terri Elliott, still actively gardens.
“We like that we can provide annuals directly from our own greenhouses,” Maidee said.
Maidee’s son, Addison Gregory, leads the marketing side of the family business. He said Watson’s ability to grow its own annuals sets it apart from other nurseries.
“We’re able to have control on every facet of that process,” Gregory said. “So we’re putting out a real high-quality product that our customers will be successful with. That’s what is important to us.”
Elliott joined the family business in 1997 after a stint at Nordstrom. She introduced home decor and gift items to Watson’s catalog of products, Maidee said.
“The emphasis is on creating beautiful living space, whether that is outside or inside, and that includes incorporating plants with that,” Gregory said.
Maidee said the decision to incorporate a gift side to the business took the seasonality out of being just a nursery.
Like most other businesses, Maidee said Watson’s wasn’t immune to the recession that started in 2007 and got worse in 2008. But at the same time, she said Watson’s fared much better.
“Our business has survived well in the economy because people still want their space to look beautiful,” Maidee said.
Watson’s is a plant store, and it hasn’t lost that focus, she added.
“Our family has always been forward-thinking and progressive,” Maidee said. “We’re always thinking how to best serve our customers.”
There has been a recent resurgence in vegetable gardening, Maidee said, and with that has come a demand.
“Customers are starting to care for where their food is coming from,” she said.
Maidee said Watson’s tries to supply a variety of products like non-GMO seeds, organics and eco-friendly soil amendments and fertilizers.
With the weather still a little cold, Maidee said customers can start to think about planting vegetables like lettuce, broccoli or asparagus. Gregory suggests fruit trees and berries, as well as roses.
“We have something for everyone, from beginners to advance,” Maidee said. “We feel a positive energy in the store with our customers.”
if you go
Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery is located at 6211 Pioneer Way E. The store will host a 30th anniversary celebration April 7-13. During the week, vignettes will be on display to share with customers the history of the company and where Watson’s will go in the future. On April 12, a garden fair will be held during business hours. Vendors will share best practices on home gardening. For more information, call 253-845-7359 or visit watsonsgreenhouse.com.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.