Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review May 2007.
DJ’s Growing Place
By Julie Gordon
Spring is here, which means it’s gardening time. If you’re looking for the perfect plants for your garden, DJ’s Growing Place in Napa has just what you need.
Located at 4074 Big Ranch Road, the nursery sells geraniums, annuals, perennials, shrubs, petunias and hanging baskets and many other types of plants. For spring, DJ’s has water lilies and hyacinths. And the good news is a trip there won’t break your bank account. Everything is reasonably priced; you can even find some plants for under $10. “We’re offering a quality product at a fair price,” says Debbie Gore, who operates the nursery with her husband Curt.
DJ’s is unique in that it grows what it sells on-site, explains Debbie. “We’re a grower that’s open to the public. What’s nice about that is your plants are acclimated. It’s going to do better in your garden.”
The plants are grown in a more than 7,500 square foot greenhouse. “We let everyone tour the whole nursery, including the greenhouse,” says Debbie. “People like to come to DJ’s and take their time and walk around. They get to see plants in all different stages.”
Springtime is the busiest time of the year for DJ’s, with the nursery generating between 60% and 70% of its business this time of year. The majority of DJ’s business is repeat and word-of-mouth.
In addition to plants, DJ’s, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, also sells herbs (such as rosemary and lavender) and vegetables.
Sally Wentworth has been coming to DJ’s since it first opened. In the spring, she buys impatiens, cosmos, Dahlberg daisies and profusion zinnias, and in late fall, she buys pansies and snapdragons. “They use the very best,” she says. “Everything is quality. I have complete confidence in everything I buy from them.”
Wentworth says likes that the staff is knowledgeable about what they are selling. “They’ll give me proper direction. They make it fun. I appreciate that I can talk to them about problems and they’ll diagnose it and offer a remedy. The staff is super-friendly. They never make me feel that I’m taking too much of their time. I like the fact that it’s locally-owned and the plants are grown on-premises…They take such care and they have such love for what they are doing. You feel like you’re contributing to nature and their business in one transaction.”
Carolyn Roberts, one of the owners of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, is another long-time DJ’s customer and refers many of her clients to the nursery, she says. Roberts really likes plants but admits she doesn’t know much about them. Her husband, Al Sherwood, is a friend of Curt’s. “He and Curt are always sharing tomato seeds and ideas,” she says.
Curt’s family had owned a nursery in Illinois, so he was raised in a greenhouse atmosphere and had always wanted to start a nursery, Debbie explains.
Debbie handles sales for DJ’s while Curt, who likes to have his hands in the dirt, does cuttings and divisions. The nursery’s manager, Michael Meredith, oversees production and handles DJ’s wholesale and commercial accounts. Debbie and Curt’s daughter Danyel, 30, occasionally helps out as well.
DJ’s has a tradition of giving back to the community: The nursery has donated product to schools, nursing homes and Dreamcatchers, Debbie explains.
While the Gores spend their days selling a variety of plants and herbs, for them, the business goes beyond that. It’s a way to publicly remember their son, Dustin James, who was killed by a speeding driver nearly seven years ago. Working with the soil has helped them heal and move on with their lives after their son’s tragic death.
“I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t start this nursery,” says Debbie.
For more information about DJ’s Growing Place, call 252-6445.