DALLAS TWP. — Behind Jeff Hosle’s contagious smile lurks a sad decision he shares with each customer — come September he will close Hoss’ Garden Hut permanently.
When customer Audrey Yagalla heard the news, she was disappointed.
“It is a shame that they are closing,” Yagalla said. “Just terrible. It is the Mom and Pop stores that create a community.”
Hosle decided to close his 33-year-old business, located at 3855 Memorial Highway (Route 415) and previously on Lakeside Drive in Harveys Lake Borough, while he recovered from an illness last August.
Factors such as changing weather patterns and consumer shopping trends weighed the heaviest on his decision to close the garden hut.
“We used to do six months of business, but now we are down to about four because of the weather,” Hosle said. “We don’t get a spring anymore, and in the fall, we don’t get the killing frost anymore until late in the season, so people aren’t planting mums like they use to.”
Another challenge the entrepreneur faced is competition from big chain stores, which offer customers shopping conveniences such as prescription service, groceries and plants in one stop.
“That is where everyone is going anymore,” he said. “Then they come to me when they have a problem with the plant.”
Hosle also noticed a disturbing trend of young people uninterested in the gardening industry.
“Every November, I go to LCCC (Luzerne County Community College) to get my sprayer’s license, and the crowd gets smaller and smaller. There are no youth involved with it,” he said. “I just saw an article in the paper the other day about a big garden in Philly, oh I can’t think of the name of it, but they are having a hard time; kids don’t want to work.”
The garden hut is a labor of love for Hosle, who often puts in 12 hour days, seven days a week from March through December.
“It was not about making money, but the love of the plants,” he said.
Hosle took pride in providing quality plants for his customers and hopes to offer his services next spring if he secures a location to have a small flower booth.
Until then, he plans to spend time with his great niece and nephew and do a little fishing.
“I have had fishing poles hanging in my garage for the past 40 years,” he said. “I plan on putting them to work.”