The right plants and landscaping can turn a dull space into a beautiful work of art. For more than 60 years, Colonial Classics has been bringing this beauty to the Tri-State area through their landscaping. Not only does this local garden center have a vast variety of plants, but they also have an extremely knowledgeable staff to assist with all of your lawn maintenance and landscaping design needs.
Julie McCarty, wife of Colonial Classics’ President J.T. McCarty, was happy to share with us the story of the business from start to present day.
Planting the Seeds
Colonial Classics was founded by J.T. McCarty’s father, Jim McCarty Sr., in 1958. Before that, Jim’s father owned a feed company, so plants, farming, and agriculture had been in the family for a number of generations. “At that time in Evansville, there were no garden centers. Jim had done some research and thought, Gosh this is sort of the new and upcoming thing around the country, and I think we need a garden center here. He started a very small place on Green River Road, and it grew and grew from there,” says Julie.
Watering and Pruning
In the 60 years that they’ve been in business, there have been changes and transitions to meet the needs and wants of Tri-State locals. “At one point in time, we had a very large retail and gift store presence. Then, the market turned probably 15 or 20 years ago and gift items were not as popular as they once were. So we came back and focused on our roots which are plants and the garden store,” says Julie.
However, in recent years Colonial Classics has seen a shift once again as garden gift items have grown in popularity. “As we went through the recession ten years ago, people were still buying plants because they weren’t traveling as much, and they weren’t spending money on expensive remodels, but they still wanted to spend money on their plants,” says Julie. “They weren’t buying the gift items that weren’t as necessary, but we’ve seen that come back around. So in the last few years we’ve been ordering some more garden gift items, and we’re excited that we’re seeing this resurgence of people interested in those.”
Watching the Leaves Flourish
Today, Colonial Classics has the most extensive selection of plants and is the largest garden center in the Tri-State area. “We have a whole range of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs...you name it,” says Julie. “We have a number of things that would be considered a little more unusual if you consider the big box stores that have a more limited selection because they can only carry certain lines of products. People who are looking for things that are more unusual will find them here, and also very often our nursery manager can special order items we may not have in stock.”
Even if you aren’t planning on buying plants or landscaping services, the staff at Colonial Classics is happy to help you out with your questions or concerns. “We have sort of become the help desk for people that are having problems with plants or something in their yard. People know they can rely on the knowledge of the staff we have here,” says Julie.
The large selection at Colonial Classics extends past their product line and over into their services. “We have a landscaping division which is also very active. We not only do residential landscaping, but we do a lot of commercial work as well,” says Julie. “Another service we have is a maintenance division for people that say hey, I need to have my yard cleaned up, pruned, and mulched. We truly are full service.”
What is so wonderful about Colonial Classics is that in addition to a vast range of landscaping services, they also go above and beyond when it comes to providing for their customers – something you just won’t find at the big chains. “We have a very loyal customer base, and many of them have been with us for decades because they know that when they come in here they can get served almost immediately,” says Julie. “They also know that when they’re talking to someone on our staff, they have a much higher level of knowledge than someone at the big box garden centers. Many of our associates in the garden center are master gardeners or they may have a degree in horticulture. We think it’s important that our staff know as much as possible about what we have, how to use it, and how to keep it alive.”
Spreading Roots in the Community
Colonial Classics is more than just a garden center. They are a local establishment with a heart and passion for the people and organizations that make up the Tri-State area. “We are extremely committed to our community,” says Julie. “I think one of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that we give back to our community often. We get calls all the time from local organizations – schools, nonprofits, or churches – asking if we can help them. Obviously, we can’t help with every request every year, but we do our best to help where we can. Last year we gave more than $25,000 in donations to local nonprofits.”
Colonial Classics is also proud to partner with local organizations to provide supplies and help new initiatives flourish. “On the community side, we partnered with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and for a number of schools we donated materials to help start butterfly gardens for the Monarch butterflies,” says Julie.
“On the commercial side, last year we had the ribbon cutting for Indiana University. They built a very large medical facility down here in partnership with some other local organizations. It was a very big deal for the community, and we were very proud to be selected as the landscape partner for that facility,” says Julie. “I would say that now that particular facility is a real gem in downtown Evansville and is seen as a cornerstone to continue to revitalize our downtown area.”
When you see the amazing things local stores like Colonial Classics are doing in the community, it’s a no-brainer to choose local over the big box stores! Find Colonial Classics and other local Tri-State businesses, on Towny – your FREE resource for exploring Evansville, choosing local, and building a robust economy. Find Towny online or on your phone!