TEC Property Inc., owner of the Enjoy Centre, is rebranding its greenhouse business as the company begins to grow its own legacy in St. Albert.
A ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 2 officially welcomed back customers to the 100,000-sq.-ft. greenhouse space under a new name: the Enjoy Garden Centre. The property company bought Hole's Greenhouses & Gardens from the Hole family last year, and took over ownership of the business Jan. 1.
When the new ownership was first announced, it was understood that the Hole family name would remain on the building in recognition of the St. Albert family who had owned the greenhouse business for 68 years. That has changed since, said Bob Sproule, a consultant for the Garden Centre.
"Certainly, the Hole name is still around the building. But as we slowly complete this transition, it will transition to the Enjoy Garden Centre," Sproule said.
In 1952, Ted and Lois Hole turned their red barn into the family's first market garden business. Almost 30 years later, Jim, his brother Bill and his sister-in-law Valerie took over the company and expanded it to become one of the largest independent retail garden centres in Canada.
In 2009, the Holes began construction on the Enjoy Centre, with added space for businesses to lease. In 2015, they sold the centre to focus on the greenhouse business.
The Hole brothers, who are retiring, stayed on at the greenhouse to help with the change until June 30.
Sproule said Jim and Bill weren't heavily involved in the transition, which wasn't a bad thing, he said. Once they left, it was time to look forward to the future.
"It was tough for them to do, I'm sure. But they were in their retirement and they had a lot of other business they were working on for themselves. So I think it worked very well," he said.
Bill Hole declined to comment for this story, and the Gazette was unable to reach Jim.Navigating the tests and trials of the COVID-19 pandemic was especially difficult, Sproule said. Although the province deemed all agricultural businesses essential services, the garden centre closed for a month in April to put new health and safety protocols in place.
The business had to transition quickly to online sales and develop a curbside pick-up option, while shifting group classes and lectures online.
"It was a hectic spring for us because we didn't know what to expect. And it kind of went like gangbusters," Sproule said.
Since reopening May 1, the garden centre has implemented new measures to keep customers safe, including plexi-shields at the tills, mandatory face masks, hand-washing and sanitization stations, and one-way arrows to reduce congestion.
Group classes are still not allowed in-person for now, but there are upcoming online workshops to check out, including how to create a festive fall planter and look after tropical plants.
"That was a big part of what (the Holes) used to do here. I would like to get back into it, but for now, we're just not going to bring groups in."
Currently, there are no future plans to incorporate more of the Hole family's history into the building, he said. Right now, they're just getting used to all of the changes brought on by the pandemic. But the centre will continue to build on the foundation left by the Hole family, he said.
"Lois and Ted Hole were good friends of ours for many, many years. It was amicable," he said. "We've got a lot of respect for the building, and Jim and Bill. They just did everything so well."