MARIETTA - Greenleaf Landscapes has long been sending work crews to Athens County and drawing customers from there to its retail shop in Marietta.
But the travel time, and cost, will decrease now that the company has opened its first branch near the intersection of Ohio 550 and U.S. 33, just north of Athens city limits.
"We've been running crews in that market probably for 20 years," said Greenleaf owner Al Lang. "We've got trucks going back and forth every day, have for years."
Vienna residents Sherrie, left, and Larry McClead look over plants at the Greenleaf Landscapes store on Muskingum Drive in Marietta. The same products and selection will be offered at Greenleaf’s new branch in Athens. (Photo by Evan Bevins)
Lang said opening a location in Athens has been under consideration for nearly a decade, but it became a reality last month, when the doors were opened to Greenleaf's new store. The 2,400-square-foot building and 7,000-square-foot covered, outdoor shopping area are located at 340 Columbus Road, the former site of a driving range.
The Athens store will offer everything the one in Marietta does - plants, including annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs; bulk products such as mulch, topsoil, compost and stone; and landscaping supplies like lava rocks and retaining wall materials. There are also two landscape design salesmen working out of the location, which has a total of 11 employees.
"Along with that, what's going to happen is we're going to add crews," Lang said. "Plus we had a good client base to start out with."
Greenleaf already had a presence in the Athens area after purchasing Puhl Landscape Designs in Nelsonville in 2010. Now the company has a full base of operations in Athens County, which cuts down on the expense of sending workers there from Marietta each day.
"That can pretty well justify the expense of a location pretty quickly," Lang said.
That helps explain why Greenleaf is expanding when the economy is still recovering. In addition, Greenleaf retail manager Mike Ennemoser said customers may have cut back on some purchases to save money, but they haven't cut them out.
"They're not going to give up gardening," he said.
There was a grand opening at the Athens site on Saturday, and traffic to the store has been good in the first couple of weeks, Ennemoser said.
"The response has been more than what we expected," he said.
Lang said there have been discussions about other markets in which Greenleaf might want to open a branch, but no concrete plans have been made.
"We'll take this on one at a time," he said.
Vienna resident Larry McClead was at the Marietta shop Tuesday and said he believes Athens-area customers will appreciate having Greenleaf in their area.
"We've been coming up here four or five years," he said. "I think it'll go real well."