Scott and Tume Stanton had been living in Willits for 15 years when they decided to turn their love of gardening into a business. With 11 years of retail experience, they noticed “a big gap in providing alternatives to standard garden supplies and a need for more customized services in our community. So we jumped in.”
Willits Garden Supply was founded to provide a more tailored approach to gardening, with trained professionals to provide top quality customer service and guidance.
Before opening the store, Scott was making a living as a freelance videographer and as a private tour guide for the last seven years, but the work wasn’t steady, and the industry was volatile.
“The video industry has taken a big downturn because of smartphones and easy access to video editing software,” explained Stanton, who had been doing this type of work since the early 90s establishing a name for himself throughout the Bay Area, “I went from having lots of jobs to finding it difficult to get one, so my wife and I decided to establish a tourism and travel company because my wife had experience in that field.”
Their work as tour guides and video producer honed their listening skills so they could deliver the products and services their clients wanted and expected. Scott says this is why they are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the customer finds the help they need. “Doing research on products to find the right answer to questions they might have, and special ordering of products are just part of good customer service we learned in our former businesses.”
Given this was Stanton’s and his wife’s first time ever operating a retail store, they ran into some unexpected hurdles which delayed their ability to open. One of their biggest hurdles, Stanton explained, was obtaining his business license.
“I submitted my first application last year in October and then finally by the time I got my business license it was the end of April. It took a long time, and I was renting this building for five months and remodeling it not knowing if they were going to allow me to have a business license,” said Stanton.
Then Stanton discovered West Business Development Center. “I had the license issues and contract problems I had to deal with and I didn’t know how to do it. I was doing it all by myself and I had to research every little aspect of everything. And then I was recommended to contact West . . . and when I finally talked to my business advisor he went through my list of problems and checked them off. He gave me the boost I needed to just get the door open and start,” said Stanton.
The support has been ongoing, and West is currently working with Scott to draft and negotiate a lease agreement and a cost of goods analysis.
“There are so many things that you need to know as a business owner and there is not any one place where you can get all of this information in a concise list, but I would say the closest thing to that is West because they know all of this stuff. They have been through it all before and they can tell you what you are missing and what other things you need to address and it has been truly invaluable,” said Stanton.
Willits Garden Supply has a steady flow of people since opening, even expanding into a new bigger location, and Stanton is confident his clientele will continue to grow. He is currently working on preparing the store for winter, which is a slower season. Because of the wide range of products he plans to carry that can be used year-round, he is positive he will continue to attract customers to meet the needs of every gardener.
“We are going to have a lot of new stuff to offer throughout the year that is going to be different from what other stores have and that and our willingness to answer your questions is the reason to come in,” said Stanton.
Willits Garden Supply is located at 1611 S. Main Street, Willits, 707-456-9382 http://www.willitsgardensupply.com/