News that Santa Fe Greenhouses will not be returning this spring came as a shock to the community. For nearly three decades, gardeners could trust Santa Fe Greenhouses to sell plants that would thrive in our dry climate. In the end, the seemingly endless drought, a recession and competition from big-box stores all combined to help force this once-thriving garden behemoth out of business. David and Ava Salman, who operated the business, also are closing a sister store, High Desert Gardens, and the company’s catalog operation.
The failure of this once-successful business is another reminder of the length and depth of this recession — it’s a time when every business owner is hanging on, working hard to stay afloat until better economic times return. To Santa Fe residents, who could depend on Santa Fe Greenhouses’ hearty stock, the absence of the store and of its dream-inducing catalog will be a loss. Unlike many towns that lose an iconic local business, Santa Fe is fortunate, though. Other local mainstays of gardeners remain: Payne’s Nurseries and Greenhouse, Agua Fria Nursery, Newman’s Nursery of Santa Fe and Plants of the Southwest come quickly to mind.
We also take comfort in knowing that other longtime local businesses continue — on the same day that we learned that Santa Fe Greenhouses would be shutting down for good, the newspaper wrote about the 60th anniversary of Dressman’s Gifts, a mainstay around the Plaza since 1952. These local businesses — and The New Mexican is one of them — operated by friends and neighbors, are the backbone of any small town or city. Santa Fe residents support and treasure local businesses is one of this city’s best characteristics. Come spring, when gardeners want the perfect drought-resistant wild rose, or need fresh mulch or golden yarrow, we know more than one person will drive by Rufina, only to find Santa Fe Greenhouses gone. They will have to drive on, to find other local nurseries to answer questions and sell them plants suited for Northern New Mexico. The failure of Santa Fe Greenhouses is a reminder to everyone to support local retailers and businesses when possible. Otherwise, we lose the diversity each individual owner brings to the marketplace, and Santa Fe, sadly, becomes more like everywhere else.