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'Third generation' of owners for 70-year Westside garden center/nursery

In its 70th year, Rick's Garden Center will continue to be family-owned and operated. At left are outgoing owners Mike and Gail Estes; at right are new owners Dan and Jeana Hopper. The photo was taken near the store's entrance off Uintah Street.
Westside Pioneer photo
May 17, 2018
       There's a new generation of owners for the venerable Rick's Garden Center, 1827 W. Uintah St.
       Dan and Jeana Hopper recently purchased the business - consisting of a store and nursery on close to 3 acres southeast of Uintah and 19th streets.
       Previous owners Mike and Gail Estes had bought the store in 1985, then the neighboring nursery in 2013, which consolidated two long-time “Rick's” operations into one.
       Garden-related commercial activities at the site date back to 1948, when Rick Richner started the nursery. Decades have passed since anyone named “Rick” has been an owner, but Jeana said she and Dan view Mike and Gail as the successors to the original owners, by staying family-owned and keeping close ties to the Westside community for so many years.
       “We want to continue the tradition to a third generation,” she said.
       The Hoppers, who moved to the Springs from Durango five years ago, had previously worked in separate types of enterprises, but were looking to own a business together.
       Meanwhile Mike and Gail were quietly putting Rick's on the market. In fact, Mike revealed, they had been thinking about retirement even before the opportunity
This mural by local artist Drake Gann has graced the east wall of Rick's Garden Center since 2014. Commissioned by outgoing owners Mike and Gail Estes, the work depicts a Colorado wilderness scene.
Westside Pioneer file photo
arose to combine the store and nursery. Going into 2018, his personal time investment totalled 41 years, considering that he had been a Rick's employee for eight years before he and Gail bought the center in '85.
       “We were winding down,” he said of their mindset before the consolidation, “but when we added the other business [the nursery], it worked the other way.”
       Quipped Gail, “It was interfering with my golf game.”
       So once they had the expanded Rick's running the way they liked, the timing finally seemed right to sell.
       Before meeting Mike and Gail, Dan and Jeana had researched other established business on the market and were not that impressed. They found what they liked at Rick's. “It's pretty apparent this is a quality business that's well run,” Dan summarized.
       The Hoppers are not planning any major changes, at least not until they've had more time to get situated. “We just want to see it grow,” Jeana said, “and keep the same feel and quality of service.”
       For now at least, it's not as if Mike and Gail are completely gone. With the peak season (springtime) at hand, they're working with Dan and Jeana during a several-week transition period. And, based on the talk at a recent interview, either or both of them may (or may not) stick around longer in some consultant role.
       In any case, one member of the Estes family, Mike and Gail's son Scott, is staying on as a Rick's employee - thus preserving a link between the business' second and third “generations.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Business: Changes)

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