Country Rose has new home, its legacy will go on
By Zachary Roman
Country Rose, Haliburton’s go-to garden centre since 1986, will not be closing after all. It has found new owners and in six weeks it will have found a new home, too.
But don’t worry, that new home is just over 10 minutes away from its current one.
Shelley Stiles and her husband Doug are the proud new owners. They have run a successful landscape construction company in Sutton for years and also own Blake Storage in 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? This is something we want to do.”
“It complements what [Doug] already knows or what we already know,” said Stiles. “And I didn’t want to see it closed in the community because I shop there myself.”
Starting on Tuesday, June 9, Country Rose will reopen at its current location for six weeks.
“We bought the business part only, we did not buy the current location,” said Stiles. “At the end of July, we’ll be fully operational at our new location out on Highway 118, which is where the store is at Blake Storage.”
Stiles thinks it is amazing to inherit Country Rose’s legacy and good name. She is also very happy that long-time Country Rose Employees like Joanne Nichols and Kim Pockett are going to be staying with the business and coming to the new location.
“The girls that are on staff, Joanne and Kim and Colleen and them, they are dynamite, they are so knowledgeable. If they were unwilling to move with us and grow the business, we probably wouldn’t have considered buying it without them,” said Stiles.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to just loves those girls, their knowledge is beyond belief ... they’ve worked really hard, they’ve been serving that community, Joanne’s been there over 30 years, Kim pretty close to the same. Their dedication to the community is amazing.”
Shelley said that spirit is what she and Doug want to carry on. She said they are very active in their home community and are really looking forward to becoming active in the Haliburton community when they move here. “I just think it’s such a great community like everybody’s so personable, so friendly and I’m really looking forward to the move,” said Stiles. “Everybody is so kind and helpful and I haven’t met a grumpy person yet.”
Stiles said Country Rose is confident and ready to handle COVID-19 business regulations, having already installed hand-washing stations at the entrances among other preparations. They don’t have as many plants as they would like just yet, but that is only due to the uncertainty of Country Rose’s future earlier this year before a buyer was found.
“With [the previous owners] already making the decision that they were going to shut down, Kim didn’t do a lot of her planting and preparation, usually by now the green greenhouses are full. So now we’re still up and ready but not quite what Kim would like to be,” said Stiles. “Next year we’ll be fully operational to what the community has come to expect. We just want to make sure that the community and countryside there knows that we are back, we’re not going anywhere – well, just up the road – but we are going to stay operational in the community so they still have their garden centre and flower centre.”
The previous owners were Joan and Art Ward, longtime Haliburton community members and business owners. Before them, Brenda Ripley-Petrow owned Country Rose – she started the garden centre in 1986. Before opening Country Rose, she used to work for Joan and Art at their inn, where she was described as a star employee with an incredible work ethic. In the early days of Country Rose, Joan and Brenda used to talk all the time about business and perseverance. This was made easier when Joan opened her own business, Antiques and Neat Stuff, across the road from Country Rose.
Fast-forward to 2002, to a night that Joan Ward remembers as vividly today as when it happened.
“One night while I was working late at Antiques and Neat Stuff, I looked up and out of my east side window of the store to see the lights on at ‘The Rose’. It was past 9 p.m. and I saw Joanne Nichols in the store arranging flowers. After thinking for a moment I realized that she was getting the flowers together for Brenda Ripley’s funeral. It struck a deep chord,” said Ward. “The funeral was the next day and I attended with Art. Whilst at the funeral I spoke to many friends and many wondered what would happen with the business she worked so hard to establish and grow in the community. One of the people I spoke with was Bart Hilhorst, Brenda’s life partner and the one who handled her estate. Later that night, after some reflection, I decided to buy Country Rose so that the legacy that Brenda and her team built would continue.”
Similar to the new owners, Joan Ward also wanted Joanne Nichols and Kim Pockett to stay on the team, and once 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 essential business in Haliburton for many years and it was [Art’s and my] wish to have this continue with new energy, fresh ideas and keen stewardship. As we looked to pass the torch it was paramount to ensure that the right people were in place to not only keep the business running, but invest and see it ‘grow’,” said Ward. “To this end Shelley and Doug Stiles look to be the perfect match. With a passion for people and the experience in running a large and established tree nursery – the legend of Brenda Ripley and all those that worked with and for her will continue on.”