FORT WAYNE -- The rocky economy – combined with this year’s drought – has claimed another local victim.
Neuhouser, a nursery and landscaping business, has closed. Kenton Neuhouser, owner, announced the decision Tuesday.
“Please know that … we worked very hard to avoid this ultimate outcome,” he said in a written statement. “I truly regret any inconvenience this may cause any of our customers.”
The 35-year-old company provided plants and trees to numerous local gardeners. Its upscale gift shop was stocked with an eclectic assortment of items including stone garden statues, hand-painted martini glasses, greeting cards, jewelry and home décor items.
Neuhouser’s already slow sales dried up during the summer’s unrelenting heat, the company’s owner said. With little money coming in, the company had trouble finding a willing lender. Neuhouser described the quest as “impossible.”
The businessman didn’t name the company’s bank but said the lender suddenly reduced the nursery’s line of credit.
In a separate email to The Journal Gazette, Neuhouser said the company’s clearance sale, which ended at 5:30 p.m. Monday, didn’t generate enough money to avert the closure.
Plants were sold at 70 percent off and all other items were marked 60 percent off. Neuhouser last week described the sale as something the company did every five to seven years to clear out its attic.
In addition to weak clearance sale receipts, the company was crippled when a deal with a potential investor fell through, he said.
“I still had high hopes that if both worked out, we could muddle through to another hopeful spring,” he wrote. “That was not to be.”
Neuhouser didn’t advertise the sale as “going-out-of-business” because of his optimism and because the city has strict rules governing use of that phrase. Retailers need to do a complete inventory and apply for a permit before holding a closing sale.
“We did not have time for that,” Neuhouser wrote.
Neuhouser directed media questions to his email address but failed to answer questions sent to him early Tuesday afternoon.
In his news release, Neuhouser described his 20-member staff as “brave, loyal and hard-working.” He also invited former customers to post comments and questions on the company’s Facebook page.
Renee Wright, who was apparently a satisfied customer, posted her thoughts on the site Tuesday.
“Can you grieve the demise of a business? I find myself heartsick this morning at the closure of Neuhouser Nursery,” she wrote.
She described walking around her yard and looking at various plants and trees bought from Neuhouser, which she described as an “exceptional nursery.”
“At least I’ll have a lot of memories,” Wright wrote, “all of them likely to burst into bloom year after year.”