Red’s Garden Center gets people seeing green
Cindy Ullrich (left) and Terry Jones at Red's Garden Center, a family business since 1968 May 25. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
BUSINESS: Red’s Garden Center
WHERE: 3460 Dundee Road, Northbrook
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
CONTACT: Call: 847-272-1209, website: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:58AM
Red’s Garden Center is a full-service family business that has been selling greenery of all kinds in Northbrook for more than 43 years.
Sisters Cindy Ullrich and Terri Jones, the daughters of the business’s founders, Wallace “Red” Poehls and his wife Loretta, have worked at the six-acre site at 3460 Dundee Road since they were in high school.
And when Red died in 2008 at 81 years old, they took over the business.
Both grew up in Northbrook, with Ullrich attending Grove and Grace Lutheran Schools, then going on to Glenbrook North High School.
Jones, who went to Emmanual Lutheran in Glenview and then to Palatine High School, now lives in Wauconda.
Ullrich moved to Wauconda just last year after living in Northbrook 35 years. And her son, Jon, has followed in their footsteps by working at the Northbrook enterprise since his high school years to his present age of 28.
And there is usually plenty to do handling the nursery, garden supplies, wood piles, gift shop and landscaping efforts.
The offerings that are the most popular depend on the season, Cindy said. Right now, annual flowers are being carried out by the armfuls and the requests for the installation of plants top everything else.
During July and August, customers love the home grown tomatoes and corn sold by Red’s at farmers markets in Northfield and Wheeling, as well as at the Northbrook acreage.
In the winter, the most popular offerings are firewood and Christmas trees. And during the fall, the pumpkins sell fast.
Ullrich noted that the operation began in 1968 as a farm stand selling fruits and vegetables, but it expanded a year later to include nursery and firewood sales.
Then, Red purchased farmland in Lake Zurich to grow his own nursery stock. A gift shop specializing in home and garden décor was added in 1994, and shortly afterward, Red’s began to offer complete landscape and design services.
Reds again expanded the inventory of plant material and garden supplies in 2002 to include a huge selection of annuals, perennials, including more than 40 varieties of roses.
The gift and patio shop also was enlarged to include a wider selection of outdoor furniture, statuary, candles, frogs and holiday decorations.
“What I think is different about our business is that we are very, very service oriented,” Cindy said.
“It may sound like a cliche, but we like to hold our customers by the hand until they find what they need and that it is the quality they like. And if we don’t have what they want, we are big on locating it for them.”
Jones added that the business also has a unique relationship with its employees and is very good at keeping them, because the sisters treat them like family.
“I cook lunch every day for about 35 employees who we have in the spring, making anything from hot dogs and sloppy Joes to Italian beef,” Jones said.
“Part of the reason is that — thankfully — we’re so busy at this time of year that we can’t have our people going out to lunch.”