March 19, 2014

It’s the End of an Era as Obal Garden Center Closes After 60 Plus Years

By the end of April, the Obal Garden Center, located at 518 Alexander Road, will be history. Walter Obal said Monday that the three and a quarter acre property had been sold. He was not sure what the new owner had in mind for the property but he knew it would no longer be a garden center. 

The family-run business has been supplying Princeton gardeners with plants and everything needed to keep them blooming since 1946. “It’s a little sad,” said Mr. Obal, “I put my whole life into the business, the whole family did.”

Since 1959, Mr. Obal has worked in the business that was founded by his uncle John Obal. Loyal customers have long relied on the advice and expertise of the Obal family as represented by Walter, his wife Kathryn, and their two sons Walter Obal Jr. and Tom Obal. “We are not exactly sure what’s next but we’ll probably take some time off,” he said.

The closure of Alexander Road two years ago delivered the final blow to a business that had weathered the rise of garden centers at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Although the family had been told that the road closure would not take place until July and August, work actually began much earlier, from March through May, at precisely the most lucrative time of year for the family-run business.

“April, May and June is our busiest time and the sales made then would carry us through the rest of the year,” said Mr. Obal. “We never recouped after that.”

The sale has already been going on for over a week and will continue until mid-April. “We began gearing down last year and everything we have left, from fertilizers to tools, from plants to bird feeders, from garden statuary and ornaments to planters, must go.”

For more information, call (609) 452-2401.