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Should garden centers be open amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 18:21:23-04

The debate over which businesses are essential and can remain open is heating up by the day.

With most stores besides grocery, pharmacy and hardware stores shut down, one type of store that remains open is in the center of a controversy.

It's garden centers. Should they be open?

At one 80-year-old garden center, business is drive-through, pre-orders only.

It's a far cry from scenes at Home Depot and Lowe's, which have publicly shamed for allowing hundreds of customers to pack stores.

"They are able to go online and order or call our phone number and we will load up their order,” said garden center manager Tim Clark.

Clark says while drive-up keeps the lights on, sales are way down.

"Churches have reduced their orders or canceled altogether,” he said.

In response to the crowding at Home Depot and Lowe's, several cities and even the state of Vermont have ordered garden centers to close.

But some folks say in a time of crisis, there is almost nothing as essential as being able to plant your own vegetable garden.

"Every time there is some sort of national emergency or people feel insecure, one of their first reactions is to grow their own food. They want to make sure they can take care of themselves and their families,” Clark explained.

Tomatoes, cauliflower, collard greens and more have been flying off the shelves, especially since online vendors like Burpee are sold out of popular vegetables.

Customers like Kristin Barnes appreciate Benken's safe way to shop.

"There’s no contact; you pay online. You pick up and they put it in your trunk; you’re not close to the people at all."

If you do decide to shop for garden supplies, keep your distance, wear a mask and don't waste your money.


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