By Zachary Roman
Country Rose Haliburton’s go-togarden centre since 1986 will not be closing after all. It has foundnew owners and in six weeks it will have found a new home too.
But don’t worry that new home isjust over 10 minutes away from its current one.
Shelley Stiles and her husband Doug arethe proud new owners. They have run a successful landscapeconstruction company in Sutton for years and also own Blake Storagein Haliburton. “We move big trees and we’re looking to slow down.We’ve always wanted to retire up in Haliburton” said Stiles.“[Doug and I] talked about it a lot and went you know what? Thisis something we want to do.”
“It complements what [Doug] alreadyknows or what we already know” said Stiles. “And I didn’t wantto see it closed in the community because I shop there myself.”
Starting on Tuesday June 9 CountryRose will reopen at its current location for six weeks.
“We bought the business part only wedid not buy the current location” said Stiles. “At the end ofJuly we’ll be fully operational at our new location out on Highway118 which is where the store is at Blake Storage.”
Stiles thinks it is amazing to inheritCountry Rose’s legacy and good name. She is also very happy thatlong-time Country Rose Employees like Joanne Nichols and Kim Pockettare going to be staying with the business and coming to the newlocation.
“The girls that are on staff Joanneand Kim and Colleen and them they are dynamite they are soknowledgeable. If they were unwilling to move with us and grow thebusiness we probably wouldn’t have considered buying it withoutthem” said Stiles.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to just loves thosegirls their knowledge is beyond belief … they’ve worked reallyhard they’ve been serving that community Joanne’s been thereover 30 years Kim pretty close to the same. Their dedication to thecommunity is amazing.”
Shelley said that spirit is what sheand Doug want to carry on. She said they are very active in theirhome community and are really looking forward to becoming active inthe Haliburton community when they move here. “I just think it’ssuch a great community like everybody’s so personable so friendlyand I’m really looking forward to the move” said Stiles.“Everybody is so kind and helpful and I haven’t met a grumpyperson yet.”
Stiles said Country Rose is confidentand ready to handle COVID-19 business regulations having alreadyinstalled hand-washing stations at the entrances among other preparations. They don’t have as many plants as they would likejust yet but that is only due to the uncertainty of Country Rose’sfuture earlier this year before a buyer was found.
“With [the previous owners] alreadymaking the decision that they were going to shut down Kim didn’tdo a lot of her planting and preparation usually by now the greengreenhouses are full. So now we’re still up and ready but not quitewhat Kim would like to be” said Stiles. “Next year we’ll befully operational to what the community has come to expect. We justwant to make sure that the community and countryside there knows thatwe are back we’re not going anywhere – well just up the road –but we are going to stay operational in the community so they stillhave their garden centre and flower centre.”
The previous owners were Joan and ArtWard longtime Haliburton community members and business owners.Before them Brenda Ripley-Petrow owned Country Rose – she startedthe garden centre in 1986. Before opening Country Rose she used towork for Joan and Art at their inn where she was described as a staremployee with an incredible work ethic. In the early days of CountryRose Joan and Brenda used to talk all the time about business andperseverance. This was made easier when Joan opened her own businessAntiques and Neat Stuff across the road from Country Rose.
Fast-forward to 2002 to a night thatJoan Ward remembers as vividly today as when it happened.
“One night while I was working lateat Antiques and Neat Stuff I looked up and out of my east sidewindow of the store to see the lights on at ‘The Rose’. It waspast 9 p.m. and I saw Joanne Nichols in the store arranging flowers.After thinking for a moment I realized that she was getting theflowers together for Brenda Ripley’s funeral. It struck a deepchord” said Ward. “The funeral was the next day and I attendedwith Art. Whilst at the funeral I spoke to many friends and manywondered what would happen with the business she worked so hard toestablish and grow in the community. One of the people I spoke withwas Bart Hilhorst Brenda’s life partner and the one who handledher estate. Later that night after some reflection I decided to buyCountry Rose so that the legacy that Brenda and her team built wouldcontinue.”
Similar to the new owners Joan Wardalso wanted Joanne Nichols and Kim Pockett to stay on the team andonce they agreed it was a done deal. Joan made the purchase –first on her own and then via an ‘incorporation’ with Art.
“Country Rose has been an essentialbusiness in Haliburton for many years and it was [Art’s and my]wish to have this continue with new energy fresh ideas and keenstewardship. As we looked to pass the torch it was paramount toensure that the right people were in place to not only keep thebusiness running but invest and see it ‘grow’” said Ward. “Tothis end Shelley and Doug Stiles look to be the perfect match. With apassion for people and the experience in running a large andestablished tree nursery – the legend of Brenda Ripley and allthose that worked with and for her will continue on.”