Owensboro native Jim Goode secured a piece of land on the south end of Owensboro and opened Garden Gate Nursery 45 years ago. Fast-forward to now, and the facility has moved a little further south to Browns Valley, operating as G&G Landscape Nursery.
G&G Nursery is now co-owned and operated by Goode along with his son Jamie and daughter-in-law Kristen. They primarily focus on commercial and personal landscape installation, maintenance, and landscape design.
“My son and his wife are working to take over the company,” Goode said. “I’ll be 74 (this month), and I haven’t had all I want, but I’ve had about all I can stand. I’ve been a teacher all my life, so now I get to teach them the ins and outs of the business.”
After graduating from Daviess County High School in 1966, Goode obtained undergraduate and master’s degrees in agriculture and horticulture from Murray State University. He then returned to Owensboro and created the first horticulture program at Apollo High School, where he stayed for roughly 7 years.
He then transitioned into adult education before deciding to make this dream of owning his own business come to life.
Garden Gate assumed many appearances during its tenure, converting itself into a winter wonderland at Christmas time and offering the latest gift shop items. The nursery also served as a garden center, landscape company, florist, and greenhouse, boasting 25 employees.
“I bought some property on what used to be Todd Bridge Road; this was before Southtown used to end near Burns Elementary,” he said. “This was before the mall was even there. I knew I wanted to open a business, but I didn’t know how I was going to fund it.”
A few short years later, Goode was reading a local paper when he discovered that Hocker and Associates would be developing Towne Square Mall on the south end of Frederica Street on land that adjoined his property. This epiphany paved the way for a business loan as his property value rose.
With Goode still teaching and remaining active in the Army Reserve, he opened the nursery in 1977. After much success, he expanded to include a florist and seasonal Christmas shop that attracted shoppers from across the tristate.
The business was thriving until a fire in the early 1990s claimed the entire facility.
“A fire in the early 90s burned us completely out,” Goode said. “We never missed a day of work. It burned down in July, and we returned to business in January, causing us to miss the Christmas season. Our crew gutted it, cleaned it all out, and we redesigned and improved the building structure.”
The nursery returned to its standard operations, but Goode could sense that change was coming to the south end of town. After taking a course on handling box stores at a regional seminar, he said he began to see some writing on the wall.
“I started to back out of some elements of the business, and we slowly started to sell things,” he said.
More development continued to burden the nursery, as the state soon approached Goode about widening Southtown Boulevard.
“We had just remodeled, installed new entry doors, and had a conference room built when they approached me about widening Southtown,” Good said. “My lot was full of white cars. There were 12 guys; it looked like an FBI raid.”
After six months of negotiation, Goode eventually sold two-tenths of an acre right of way to the road project, sacrificing much of his parking lot and one entrance. Business continued at the location a bit longer until another proposition knocked at Garden Gate’s door.
“Subway came later and wanted to know if I would sell my place since I had already sold the right of way,” he said. “I didn’t accept their offer initially, but they came back four days later with a new offer.”
Goode said instinctually he wanted to show them the door, but his pointing gesture quickly turned to a handshake, and the deal was done. He and his crew then embarked on what he referred to in military terms as an “organized withdraw.”
In 2012, Goode put a sign on KY 431 in Browns Valley, where he already had a nursery, and effectively changed the company’s name. The florist and gift shop are no more, but Goode and Goode continue to shape the landscape of much of the area.