Mary and Daryl Schloss at Kingaroy Garden Centre.
Mary and Daryl Schloss at Kingaroy Garden Centre. Christian Berechree

Veteran business owners selling after 42 years

BEFORE ShoppingWorld or Mitre 10 came to town, and long before any talk of Bunnings, there was a small trailer in a vacant block on the corner of Youngman and King streets.

That trailer would eventually grow into one of Kingaroy's most iconic and well-loved businesses.

In May 1976, Daryl and Mary Schloss followed in family footsteps and started selling plants out of the trailer, every second Saturday.

Things went so well they built their first nursery on that site in September of the same year.

Eight years later, they bought a vacant block on Kingaroy St and built the beautiful Kingaroy Garden Centre.

Now, after 42 years running their business, Daryl and Mary are ready to hand it on to someone else.

They put the garden centre on the market to give themselves a bit of time to "smell the roses".

"Well, you either do it while you've still got some strength and health, and time to travel or you don't," Daryl said.

Mary added they both wanted to make more time for their growing family.

"Our girls went to Taabinga State School, Kingaroy High. They went to uni, but of course they never came back, they live down south now. So we just want a bit more time to spend with the family before we get too decrepit," she said.

Daryl and Mary not only own the business, but have worked in it full time for decades.

"It's a bit more than a 38 hour week," Daryl said.

The business has always been a family affair, becoming an extension of the family home in many ways.

"The kids used to come down here, go to bed, sleep down here and go to school," Mary said.

"They worked here. They were actually our best employees, because they know what you want and you can tell them."

Over the years, the face of Kingaroy CBD and the South Burnett business world have changed dramatically.

When they built at their current location, the neighbouring Pioneer Lodge and Burke and Wills Motel were just springing up as well.

Daryl said it was an exciting time of change for the Kingaroy CBD.

"It was a busy time, with a lot of changes. But that's part of life's journey," he said.

 

Mary and Daryl Schloss at Kingaroy Garden Centre.
Mary and Daryl Schloss at Kingaroy Garden Centre. Christian Berechree

Businesses diversifying was one of the major changes Daryl had observed.

"A hardware sold nails and bolts and just the hardware lines. Chemist just sold medicines, now everyone can sell anything," he said.

Mary said they had always tried to keep up with trends and changing demands in the business world.

"We always had a gift area. We sold a lot of caneware, now we can hardly find it, or it's really expensive, so that's kind of changed. There's some things we could sell a lot of, then it'd just die. So it's a trend thing," she said.

Technology is one of the main forces for change Daryl and Mary have had to contend with over the years.

"What we find hard is the technology. We weren't at school in it, so you wonder if you're being left behind. Handing it to someone younger going on, they can introduce new things," Mary said.

The couple said they had observed a change in the nature of hobby gardeners over the years.

More men, younger people and even children are becoming keen gardeners.

"Media has helped. There were never gardening shows, so there's people who have started doing those," Daryl said.

"A lot of companies have apps, so the speed of accessing knowledge is unbelievable."

They said the highlight of running their business was the customers, especially seeing generations of families coming back and showing loyalty to the store.

For anyone keen to take over the business, or anyone in the business world at all, the veteran shopkeepers had some simple words of advice.

"It's a matter of being honest. When we started, neither of us had any plant knowledge," Daryl said.

"I used to just say to people 'I don't know, leave it with me', and that is where you learn."