When Pot-Luck Greenhouse first opened its doors to customers in April of 1978, owner Steve Collett didn’t quite know what to expect.
While he knew there was a market for quality plant material for the homes and gardens of Clinton County, it was the idea of being in business for himself that he was unsure of.
Would people support a local small business? Could he really make a living doing something he enjoyed?
He plunged ahead and built the first of many greenhouses over the summer of 1977.
Setbacks were to be expected. And they were not long coming. Many will remember the blizzard of 1978. Steve will never forget it.
His brand new never-used greenhouse was knocked down flat by a snow drift which exceeded 14 feet. With help from many friends and family, the snow was shoveled away and the structure was shored up enough to be used. The first crop was ready to sell in spring of 1978. A memorable first spring indeed.
The business went well. The damaged greenhouse was replaced and more growing space was needed. Space was added as time and money permitted.
In January of 1982 Steve brought in a partner, his new wife Karla. The two of them labored together and the business prospered. They were blessed with five sons, all of whom were required to do their part of producing the crops.
The second setback came in January of 1995. A fire destroyed the sales room and much of the greenhouse space. Once again Steve and Karla labored to get another structure up in order to grow that all important spring crop.
The next disaster came over Christmas in 2004. A severe ice and snow storm again leveled over half of the total growing area. This time a total rebuild was necessary. Two-thirds of the growing space was bulldozed and a new structure was put into place. It went up in record time and was ready to plant in March of the next year.
All of these disasters did not really prepare the Colletts for what was to come next. The year 2008 brought a double hit. The recession and subsequent loss of disposable income was paired with the loss of thousands of jobs from the air park.
Every year since the very beginning of the business sales had grown over the last year’s sales. The Colletts saw their sales that year drop over 40 percent. Profit went to zero and stayed there for over four years. Jobs were taken away from the business as a source of income.
Over the next few years the family sought out new ways to promote their business. New products were added. A larger mulch, topsoil and stone facility was built. Delivery was offered to increase sales.
One of the most fun additions to get more customers out to shop was the beginning of the annual spring show. A theme is selected such as The Wizard of Oz and the story is displayed in flowers. The displays are designed to give local gardeners ideas for their own backyards. The shows have been a great success.
Two of the Colletts’ sons have returned to the business. Nathan and Josiah both now work alongside Steve and Karla and bring the vitality and ideas of a new generation.
Pot-Luck Greenhouse truly remains a family operation that prides itself on producing 95 percent of the plants they sell right there in their own greenhouses. This allows the operation to sell the best quality available at reasonable prices.
In 2017 a corn maze was added. In the field beside the greenhouses two miles of trails were cut in five acres of corn. Other attractions include a straw maze for kids, two bounce houses, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, a hay ride to the pumpkins, giant cornhole game and the extremely popular corn swim.
A giant slide is being added this year as well as a rat race game.This year’s theme is Noah’s Ark.
We welcome reservations from school groups, scout groups and other organizations during the week. The maze is open weekends from Sept. 15 through Oct. 28. On Friday our hours are 4-10 p.m. On Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and on Sunday noon-7 p.m. There is truly something for all ages to enjoy.
As Wilmington has experienced and continues to experience a comeback from much adversity, so has Pot-Luck Greenhouse. Stop by and see us. Our family would love to meet yours.