ADDRESS: 6600 SW Philomath Blvd, Corvallis OR
OWNERS: Lynnette and Chris Shonnard
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 29
WHAT THEY SELL: Nursery stock of every variety, cut flowers and arrangements, houseplants, garden tools, pottery and decorations, and soil amendments. Garden, water feature and landscaping design and installation and maintenance services, holiday lighting installation and storage service.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: In a word, Experience. Chris and Lynnette have been working with plants since they both earned their Horticulture degrees from OSU. The “kids,” Andrea and Joel, grew up in the business, and Shonnard’s employees average 15 years of service at the nursery. They will be there when you need them!
At Shonnard’s Nursery, Florist and Landscape, it’s all about family. On any given day, you will find a Shonnard – Chris, Lynnette, Andrea or Joel – on the premises, ready and able to assist homeowners with every step of any plant-related project from the do-it-yourself to fully supported professional design and installation. Whether it’s a vegetable patch or a water feature, the entire Shonnard family is passionate about helping their customers be successful.
When did you start your business?
Chris: I started out wanting to be a grower. In 1984, George Chadwick hired Lynnette and me to manage Flowerland West, a retail garden center and growing facility with three hoop houses. In 1988, we were able to purchase the business and change the name to Shonnard’s.
What is your favorite part of the business?
Chris: The landscaping division. It has become a major portion of the business.
Lynnette: Adding the greenhouses for the annuals and perennials. The roof and sides retract automatically. It’s nice for the customers and the plants to not get rained on!
Joel: My favorites are the water features because we do an ecosystem type of ponds and waterfalls, and the Holiday Lighting division. We can design, install, take down and store high-end light displays for residential exteriors from Corvallis to Salem!
Andrea: Our customers love the family aspect of the business. I really like helping people to be successful with their garden projects.
Do you fill an unusual niche?
Chris: We are the only floral-garden-landscape combo in the area. We have the retail showroom and can offer full support on landscaping projects from irrigation on up, so our customers walk away educated and satisfied. Or we can provide the professional design and the customer can do the installation as a DIY to keep costs down. Through our floral division, we can deliver flower arrangements or any nursery stock dressed up for gift-giving.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner?
Chris: We had very little business background, and we didn’t get enough financial advice when we got started. We grew too fast, and the business almost failed. So when we decided to expand in 1999, we worked with Cascades West in Albany to get a SBA loan. With their help, we weathered the cost overruns and delays in construction of the new showroom, as well as all the lay-offs at HP and the recession. Now we are working on getting the next generation involved!
What is the impact of local independent business on Corvallis?
Andrea: Corvallis loves local businesses!
Lynnette: They love the family aspect, they love seeing the kids working in the store with us.
Joel: At least once a week, a customer will say they like to keep their dollars local.
How important is sustainability to your business?
Chris: We recycle everything possible from pots to shrink wrap, and compost all the plant trimmings by putting them in the yard debris cart, all of which saves us money on disposal costs. We also saved money by putting in energy efficient lighting in the showroom. The really cool thing is we revamped the landscape display area to include three water features that are all connected to a reservoir that collects rainwater off the roof of the building (a repurposed house) that houses our offices. We put in a frost-free hose bib there that lets us irrigate the plants in that area with the rainwater rather than chlorinated city water.
Lynnette: Another big impact came when we switched from an overhead sprinkler system to hand-watering the container stock in the nursery. This creates a higher labor cost but it saves a lot of water and actually produces healthier plants so we lose fewer plants, which means less waste. Most of our plants are Oregon grown, too!
(Interview and article by Kate Lindburg – February 17, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).