The owner of Reigate Garden Centre has described how a life’s work has been reduced to “devastation”. The store finally closed for good at the weekend.
The centre in Sandcross Lane shut on Sunday (October 28). Everything from unsold Christmas baubles and plants to shelving and equipment is now being removed.
The once thriving business became owner Gary Tiley’s life. He said he worked seven days a week for the first 25 of his 35 years there. As he prepares to hand the centre over to the developer who will demolish it, he says it is looking like a “warzone”.
Reigate Garden Centre owner devastated
“It has been quite draining,” he said. “I will actually be glad to see the back of it. I have been watching it get more and more ripped up and devastated.
“It is the end of an era. It was jolly good and great fun and all the staff were like family. We had some very good times and lots of laughs but it has come to an end.”
Mr Tiley and his family have run the centre since 1983. They announced in February they were selling up due to falling sales.
Mr Tiley, 53 has not been put off the business and said he is looking to buy another garden centre in the local area.
Mr Tiley’s father David, now 81, bought the Sandcross Lane site as a headquarters for his building firm.
Mr Tiley junior said: “I was at college and he said to me, ‘Would you like to come and run the garden centre?’ It was only a little garden shop then. I thought to myself ‘I will do that for now, but I don’t want to be here when I am 30’ – and I’ve been here for 35 years.”
He said business plateaued and people were “coming in taking pictures on their phones and going off to buy on the internet”.
The centre once employed 60 people. That had reduced to 25 this year, all of whom have been made redundant, including Mr Tiley’s daughter.