We popped in to the now not so new Barton Grange Garden Centre at Brock on the A6 on Saturday. Barton Grange is a massive business and its new site is nothing short of glorious. With its own marina for the barge community, onsite farmshop, a restaurant and cafe, they’ve truly created a beautiful environment in which to shop.
I worked at the old site straight from uni for about 6 months back in 1990, a great place to cut your retail teeth. We all worked well together and while the odd misfit ego would come and go, by and large, the staff remain the same year in year out.
Back then Eddie Topping was the boss. He would walk through the planthouse and if a single poinsettia had a white fleck on its red leaves, it would be skipped. His standards were as high as it gets but then that’s what his public paid for.
The level of customer service is superb. People wanting plant advice can talk to Fred. Everyone knows him, he’s been there since he was a lad and he has as much time in the world for every enquiry as you’d want. Plain speaking, earthy and direct, he’s the kind of guy you want to know. He’s worked there over 40 years.
Alison in chemicals is no muppet either. She’s been there since she was a teenager, 20 years-ish, and what she doesn’t know about houseplants and their care, insecticides, plant foods and the peripheral gardening paraphernalia, isn’t worth knowing.
Gladys Lamb, to my knowledge, is still there and has worked there for 23 years. She’s 77!
In a world where people switch jobs every two years, it’s a massive accolade to the guys at BGGC that people choose to spend their entire working lives with them.
You go there and without exception everyone is lovely. David, my husband, and no stranger to marketing and the retail sector, noted how blatantly evident it was that it must be a great place to work. “Everyone’s obviously happy here. All the staff are smiling and keen to help.”
What I like most is that Barton Grange, despite its growth into the stratosphere, has not rested on its laurels. No standards have been compromised, nobody’s well-being crushed. The family business feel of the place has been maintained. Guy Topping, Eddie’s son, is the current MD and no fool! The place is personal and personable. It’s developing its own new character, yet gives a polite nod to its former hands-on boss, not only in the delivery of service, but there is a bronze statue of him, seated at one of the benches in the garden. An uncanny resemblance, it’s a fitting tribute to the man who started the ’empire’.
If you do nothing else when you visit the garden centre, be sure to visit the men’s urinals. They’re a visitor attraction in their own right!
I started my working life there more or less. I often think that what I strive to achieve now with newroomsonline is down to those early days – not wanting to compromise on style, choice of goods or customer service. Let us know how you think we could improve.