New owners, same service

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February 6, 2010 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — She spent most her spare time during  high school and college helping out at the family business. Now, Savannah Heard is the one in charge.
Heard and fiance Levi Flori became proprietors Dec. 30 of TLC Greenhouse, now renamed TLC Garden Center, purchasing the business from Heard’s father, John.
“We’ve changed owners but we’re still the same family,” Heard said. With the TLC name comes the same level of service clients have grown accustomed to, Heard said.
Heard and Flori are in the midst of preparing their stock of cool weather seeds for the gardeners ready to grab their rakes and tillers at the first sign of spring. They’ll also begin developing cold crop plants, such as broccoli, lettuce and cabbage. That business should pick up considerably as February tilts to March.
In addition, TLC offers a wide variety of garden plants, annual and perennial flowers and assorted lawn decor. Heard and Flori also offer supplies and accessories for water gardens, benches and bird baths.
Both Heard and Flori began working full time at TLC about three years ago, after both earned degrees in horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design at Kansas State University.
“We wanted to make sure we both could earn a living while working here full time,” Heard said.
They’re confident they can do so, particularly now that their landscape business has started to gain momentum.
TLC was hired last year to prepare the lawns and landscaping at the new River Valley Homes complex, 30 structures on the western half of what was formerly Cedarbrook Golf Course.
“We’ve been in touch with a lot of local businesses who want to do business with us,” Flori said.
John Heard agreed that the young couple can make a go of it.
“I couldn’t be prouder with how they’ve done,” John Heard said.

GARDENING seems to be experiencing a renaissance, Flori said, as more folks look to grow their own food and flowers instead of heading to the grocery store.
Flori cites two major reasons — the economy and healthier living.
“What we’ve seen are more and more people staying home,” which in turn prompts them to spruce up their homes and lawns, he said.
The popularity of the Allen County Meltdown programs is evidence that more people are striving to eat fresh produce and avoid processed foods out of a can, as well.
Flori noted the garden center’s proximity to U.S. 54 makes it a popular stopping point for passing motorists.
“We’ve had more than one truck stop along the highway because they’ve seen our sign,” he said.
Running a local business has given Heard a deeper appreciation of what LaHarpe has to offer. It also provides her a chance to get reacquainted with old friends and neighbors she knew as a youngster.
“I get to see a lot of people from around town, as well as customers from farther away, like Chanute and Fort Scott,” she said.
Heard also has become a visible community member through other means. She’s the chairman of the LaHarpe Pride Committee, volunteers with LaHarpe Days planning activities, and TLC is a member of the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Networking is very important,” she said.

AS SPRING approaches, TLC will soon resume its summer hours, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Heard and Flori also will continue to honor customers who utilize their punch card promotions, in which multiple trips to the garden center results in various rebates and other store specials.
An open house, celebrating the new ownership and TLC’s 10th anniversary in LaHarpe, is planned for April 24. TLC can be reached at (620) 496-1234.

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