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Vacant space turned into pop-up garden shops

Avison Young and Darvonda Nurseries opened seven pop-up nursery shops in Alberta and Saskatchewan in just four weeks to sell plants and other items that would have normally gone to big-box outlets.
-Darvonda Nurseries

In late March Langley, B.C.,-based Darvonda Nurseries learned that its largest wholesale buyer would not be able to accept the majority of its season’s spring plant order due to COVID-19 restrictions. Company owner Lawrence Jansen needed a solution to sell up to 80 percent of its annual vegetable and potting plants grown in Alberta and British Columbia or risk survival of the third-generation business.  

Jansen turned to James Heaps, the head of business advisory services at Avison Young, Calgary.

In four weeks, Jansen, alongside James Heaps, Hani Abdelkader and Travis McElroy at Avison Young, worked on a plan that will see seven pop-up locations open throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan to sell Darvonda’s products.

 “We created seven businesses in one month,” said Heaps, with four of them already blossoming.

“We believe we have a win, win, win solution; we win by working with communities and providing our product to our customers, real estate owners win by gaining a short-term solution with no additional cost, and fortunately, we now have a plan in place to help our business survive,” said Jansen.  

“The support and business attitude we have seen has been unprecedented. We need to thank the Tsuut’ina Nation, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton, City of Red Deer, and all the real estate landlords we have worked with for their help in navigating a different way of doing business,” said Abdelkader.

Products will be sold at wholesale cost, and includes vegetable, flower bedding plants, and hanging baskets which had been earmarked for garden centres at big box retailers before COVID-19 hit. 

The Pop-up Garden Shops are now opening and located at:14815 Bannister Road SE, Calgary – a former Rona; 7516 Macleod Trail S, Calgary – a former Part Source outlet; 1817 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary – McMahon Stadium (east parking lot); and 730 St. Albert Trail, St. Albert, AB – also a former Rona.

Openings are planned on May 7 at 3777 Grey Eagle Drive, Calgary – Grey Eagle Casino (east parking lot); and: 4847A 19 Street, Red Deer, at Red Deer Westerner Park; and later this month at Prairieland Park, 503 Ruth Street, Saskatoon. 

Avison Young has set up a consulting program to help others in commercial real estate while they adapt to the new normal during the virus crisis. Contact