BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — New life is coming to the former Andersons Garden Center with an outdoor garden market that is set to open for business there this weekend.
Lakewood’s Garden Market Place and Witt Orchards Farm Market and Cider Mill will open a retail market in the former Andersons Garden Center on Ford Street in Maumee. The market will be open on the weekends only – Friday through Monday – from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It will be located in the outdoor space adjacent to the former general store.
The outdoor market will carry a full line of fall products, including mums and other perennials along with a variety of apples, fresh-pressed apple cider, pears, jellies, jams, preserves and other fresh produce.
During the Christmas season, the store will carry live potted trees, holiday gift baskets, fresh wreaths, roping, grave blankets and more.
The store will close for three months after the holidays before opening again in the spring with a full line of plants, vegetables, flowers and more.
Walter Krueger, owner of Lakewood Greenhouse, has been eager to get a retail market up and running in Maumee ever since his son Michael Krueger opened a similar retail center at The Andersons’ Talmadge Road location this spring.
“This has such a special place in people’s minds – so we’re just really trying to utilize the space for what it was designed for and to give the people a new place to enjoy,” he said.
Heather Bond, of Witt Orchards, is also excited to partner with Lakewood Greenhouse and is looking forward to serving customers in Maumee.
“I’m grateful to be tagging along on this pop-up farmers’ market,” she said.
Witt Orchards is a fourth-generation-owned and operated apple orchard with approximately 100 acres of property in Oak Harbor, where over 100 varieties of apples are grown and harvested.
“Even though we are from Oak Harbor, we went to The Andersons a lot and we loved the store, so we are really excited to be a part of it,” Bond said.
Krueger’s grandfather started the wholesale flower business in the late 1890s when he began selling cut roses. His father, Walter Sr., also ran it before he took it over in 1986. Lakewood produces a wide variety of potted blooming plants on 25-acre site in Northwood. Serving approximately 300 customers, including other growers, Lakewood provides potted plants, hanging baskets, bedding plants, dish gardens, succulent gardens, novelty gardens, tropical plants, orchids and all holiday crops including Easter lilies. In fact, for 50 years, Lakewood supplied The Andersons Garden Centers with its product.
“I first started to deliver to them in 1967 when they had their first Columbus store, so we have been a supplier for a long time,” Krueger said. “We felt that with this beautiful facility being here, if we didn’t get it revived and cleaned up, it was going to go the other way.”
In late 2017, investor Kraig Mackett purchased the Maumee property in the hope of converting the building into a market with restaurants, food vendors and entertainment. The concept was modeled after the West Side Market in Cleveland, but that proposal fell through and instead, Mackett leased the building back to The Andersons for storage of its plant nutrient material.
Krueger worked out a sublease agreement with The Andersons to use the outdoor space – a deal he has worked on for the past 16 months. This winter, he will use heated tents until a permanent structure can be built.
“We are very grateful to the Anderson family, the board of directors and to Patrick Bowie, the CEO, because they have all supported allowing us to sublease this from the plant nutrient department,” he said.
Krueger envisions the new garden market evolving as he partners with even more businesses to offer additional products such as mulch, landscaping services and more. He also plans to tailor the production of his products – as well as those he carries – to what people enjoy and are successful with.
“I know that the people here deserve to have a nice place. The Andersons built it for us and I would like to use it and save it, rather than tearing it down,” Krueger said. “We have supplied this location for so long that when it comes to this project, we like to say that we’re back.”