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Advertising Feature: Spring in Castlegar gets Two Thumbs Up

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
April 27th, 2020

Even a quarantine can’t keep spring from coming, and we’re well into the season of renewal – which turns people’s thoughts to their own little pieces of nature, their gardens.

Enter Mark Gingrich, who has operated Two Thumbs Up Greenhouses for 26 years and is now opening a convenient Castlegar location on May 1 on Columbia Avenue in front of the old Fire Hall/City Hall and adjacent to the new City Hall.

“I’m going to bring some of everything,” Mark said, adding the downtown location will have the same operating hours as his Pass Creek greenhouses, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

“We have more than 50 kinds of tomatoes, several different cucumber varietals, a range of peppers and squash and lettuce,” he said, adding they’ll of course have the flower baskets for which Two Thumbs Up has become regionally famous (see photo). You may recognize them from outside Mtichell’s each year, where they provide massive, showy displays of gorgeous blooms and greenery.

Since the pandemic has created a heightened awareness of food security, he’s also ramping up vegetable options for gardens, balconies and decks.

“We’re also doing veggie baskets, so your greenery can also be a beautiful source of fresh food,” he said. “I made tons of baskets this year (probably 200 different types), and I can customize for people who preorder the year before.”

In light of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, he said both locations are carefully set up for maximum social distance and minimal contact.

“In Castlegar, the aisle is in a circle, with one entrance and one exit. I’m spacing the benches about 10 feet apart, so foot traffic is one-way in a very wide aisle, with hand sanitizer and the cashier at the end,” he said. “People can also call in for curbside pick up.

“We’re going to be doing 12-packs of any vegetables off of our list for $36 + tax per pack, and you can call it in and pay by either etransfer or tap, so it’s a touchless transaction.”

To order for the next day or the one after, call 250-687-4782 or message them on Facebook by clicking here.

Mark said his Pass Creek location had only been open three days at the time of this interview, and he can already see a difference in the way people are shopping.

“There’s an urgency to get the product that I’ve never seen before – not like the toilet paper thing, though,” he said. “But it is a big difference. People are shopping earlier than normal and buying more.”

This isn’t the first time Mark has faced adversity in running the business – it was actually originally a labour of love for his late wife, Evelyn.

“She was a farm girl, and she had a passion and a natural knack for growing stuff,” he said, adding he learned far more than he realized simply working alongside her for so many years. “I enjoyed it, but she was the one who was really good at it.”

When Evelyn tragically and unexpectedly passed during a vacation six years ago, Mark said he was in shock and didn’t open the greenhouses that year.

“I was lost,” he said. “But a lot of people asked me to try it again – I have so many dedicated, steady customers, so I opened back up for them.”

Slowly, he came to realize that he had absorbed a great deal more from Evelyn than he realized, and had skill at growing in his own right. Now he’s going his own direction by trying new ideas and experimenting with his options.

He certainly never thought he would have to be this creative, this quickly, but COVID-19 changed virtually everything about the way businesses need to conduct transactions.

“I had all the supplies, all the seeds, all the pots, everything ordered and here when I returned from Thailand on Feb. 13,” he said.

And that’s when COVID-19 hit home.

Determined to move forward, he reworked how customers would move through his property to ensure it was both safe and convenient for everyone.

“We’re all doing what we can,” he said.

Mark said he plans to spend mornings at his Pass Creek farm, then bring whatever is needed for the afternoon in Castlegar, while his two employees serve customers all day.

The Pass Creek location is only 11 km from the Robson Bypass Road via Pass Creek Road at 2332 Goose Creek Road.

For more information, call 250-687-4712 or check them out on Facebook by clicking here.

Categories: General

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