Greenland Garden Centre

Deep roots

Located in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Greenland Garden Centre is the perfect destination on sunny spring weekends—whether it’s for a stroll through the outdoor botanical gardens, a moment to relax at Cappuccino Bar or to find the most beautiful plants for your garden. The vast selection of trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials and water-garden supplies makes Greenland a one-stop shop for gardeners. And for those who lack a green thumb, Greenland’s award-winning selection of giftware, home and garden décor and Christmas collectibles will appeal to the shopper who loves a good boutique.

As Alberta’s leading gift and garden centre, Greenland is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. In 1960, John Chichak started the company in north Edmonton, specializing in lawn maintenance with a small garden centre. It was John’s children, Deborah, Tim, Wayne, and son-in-law Rod, who decided to take their father’s garden centre business and build one that was to be a destination for gardening and home décor.

“We started the Greenland Garden Centre as a new way of presenting gardening to the Edmonton area,” says Deborah Sirman, co-owner. “We wanted people to be able to come on a year-round basis and get the service, selection and quality that they would in warmer parts of the continent. Before our garden centre, Edmonton only had seasonal greenhouses that closed at the end of summer. Since our opening, we have come a long way.”

On April 23, 1991, the new Greenland celebrated its grand opening. The company continues to be a family business that specialises in serving other families. “We constantly anticipate the customers’ needs,” Sirman adds. “We have never become complacent towards our business. That has resulted in growth that sometimes overwhelms even us.”

‘A different level’

To demonstrate the commitment to customer service, Greenland can proudly showcase its award for Canadian Retailer of the Year given by the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association in 2004. “That award was a real turning point for us,” says Sirman. “It was so important to us because it put us as the top retailer in the country, and it included more competitors than just garden centres. After that, we went from thinking we were a small, family business to the knowing we were at the top.”

Since then, Greenland has won several more awards, including one for Best Garden Centre in Canada. “Our other awards have been really special, but it was that first award that really brought us to a different level.”

By ‘different level,’ Sirman doesn’t mean she won’t get her hands dirty anymore. “If the bathrooms at Greenland are dirty, I still clean them,” she laughs. “We owners still believe in leading by example, so we won’t ask our employees to do something that we wouldn’t do. I guess we figure that our employees will see us working hard and will want to keep up!”

What sets Greenland apart

It’s fair to say that Greenland Garden Centre differentiates itself in numerous ways: the extensive assortment of plants, inspiring garden displays, community events and a playground for kids to amuse themselves while parents are shopping. But perhaps most noteworthy value-add might be the access to droves of information.

It’s not just the knowledgeable staff found in the store, it’s the information Greenland makes available to its customers without them ever having to come in. First in line has got to be the radio talk show segment on 630 CHED. Every Sunday from 8:45am to 9:00am (MST), Sirman joins Stan Thompson on his show, What’s Up Stan?, to talk about gardening. Touching on new topics every week, such as soil amendments and container ideas, Sirman offers expert advice for novices and enthusiasts alike.

If 8:45am is too early, one can always email an expert at the Greenland Garden Centre website. Greenland’s staff are happy to help with questions regarding issues, such as insects, diseases and planting. Just interested in general advice? They have that too! The website provides FAQs and gardening tips for an array of plants and seasons.

Last but certainly not least are the informative demonstrations and classes offered at Greenland (these sessions are in-person). The classes offer a wealth of information on gardening and home decorating.  Spring and summer courses run from April until June and include topics such as seeding indoors, pruning and landscaping. Fall and winter classes run from September until December and include topics on everything from preparing your yard for winter to enhancing your entrance for Christmas.  

Getting better

It’s no wonder the award-winning Greenland Garden Centre has become the hotspot for gardening in the Edmonton area; it is clear that its owners are truly invested in the customer experience.  

“People always ask us why we don’t build a second location. We have always said we want to be the best we can be,” Sirman explains, “We’re nervous that if we move somewhere else, and we could lose the family feeling and the ability to maintain our standards, and we don’t want to dilute who we are. We put 150 per cent of our efforts into this one location.”

Sirman says she is pleased with Greenland’s growth. And so she should be; the company started with $1 million in sales and now it sells over 10 times that. “We’re at a point where we don’t want to get any larger,” she continues. “We just want to continue to get better. Instead of saying we’ll build and grow, we want to get better with the customers we already have—and attract more in the process!”

Summed up perfectly, Sirman concludes saying “we don’t ever want people to say ‘been there, done that’ with Greenland. We want them to always have something to look forward to.”