A GREEN-FINGERED couple are hanging up their gloves after nearly 35 years running a garden centre.
Robert Higgins, 62, and his wife Anne, 70, are closing St Anne’s Garden Centre in Chickerell to start their retirement and convert the site into holiday lets.
Mr Higgins, from Weymouth, said: “The gardening business is very demanding – it’s seven days a week because on Saturdays and Sundays that’s when people do their DIY and they come in to buy all the supplies like fencing, sand, cement, paving slabs, bricks and so on.
“We haven’t really had any time off apart from in mid-winter. We put it on the market for about one and a half years but I think because it’s a seven day a week business, and it’s hard for people to get bank loans, we didn’t really have any success.”
The couple built up the business over many years and are currently one of Weymouth’s biggest stockists of concrete and fencing.
Mr Higgins said: “Since we started we have become fairly well known in the area. When we came to the business first it was St Anne’s Poultry Farm – it was just chickens at first. But people were coming down to us to buy eggs and we thought it would be good to start selling other things too, so after a while we started selling paving slabs and that got more popular than the eggs, so we went from there.”
He added he and his wife want to turn the site into holiday lets they plan to manage during their retirement.
“The holiday lets are something new for us. I’m looking forward to it. From what I’ve seen of it, that kind of thing doesn’t seem too hard so we are optimistic.”
While there is no special closing down event for the centre’s last day on August 2, Mr Higgins said he’ll be ‘taking his staff out for a meal after the last day’ to mark the occasion.
He said: “We want to thank everybody that’s been good customers over the years. Some have been coming here over 30 years. They move house and start all over again with their gardens and keep coming back, which is nice.”