PlantMasters opens satellite store in Bellaire

BELLAIRE – On April 29, only one week after finalizing the deal, the VanThomme family opened its second PlantMasters location.

Located on the north side of Bellaire at 906 N. Bridge St. (M-88), it replaces the former Bellaire Greenhouse. For long-time customers, there’s a great deal of excitement that the nursery is up and running and looking better than ever. Even the former owner of the Greenhouse, Ed Stoneburner, is proud and happy to see the rebirth. The greenhouses and retail store cover five city lots, making it a significant part of the Bellaire landscape. It was started by Bill Edwards over 50 years ago; Stoneburner operated it for 20 years.

The VanThommes bring many years of experience to the nursery business. In 1949, grandfather Ed VanThomme started a nursery business in southeastern lower Michigan. That location is still in the family as a wholesale-only operation.

The Suttons Bay nursery opened in 1990. Son Don and his wife, Tina, are the current owners of PlantMasters in Suttons Bay. Grandson Eric and his wife, Tara, are managing the new Bellaire facility.

“We try to look for the unusual,” said Tara VanThomme. “Items such as melon chenille bells, terra-cotta colored petunias or white and violet heliotrope are just a few of the things we bring here from the Suttons Bay greenhouses. People who are into plants look to us for these types of things.”

All of the stock for the Bellaire satellite comes from Suttons Bay, where over 100,000 square feet of plants are housed in 45 greenhouses.

There are five greenhouses at the Bellaire location.

“One greenhouse holds all of the annuals; there is a large variety of flats and hanging baskets,” Tara said. “We also do custom planters. Another greenhouse holds our perennials and over 70 types of herbs. Last is the pansy house or the ‘L’ house which is attached to the store.”

Yet another greenhouse covers the vegetables, including several huge potted tomato plants.

“My father-in-law and mother-in-law pride themselves on having the first tomato in the county,” Tara said emphatically.

With three-foot-tall tomato plants already in bloom, the race is surely on.

Getting the business up and running in time for the May planting rush was no easy task. The VanThommes did a few structural changes to the store and hope to lease out the florist area that was part of the previous business. They have also brought in some retail items including planting supplies.

As customers start to wander through the newly-stocked greenhouses, it is clear that the VanThommes will be giving a boost to the Bellaire community. BELLAIRE

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