EUGENE, Ore. — A local business that’s been in Eugene for more than 70 years is closing.
Owners of Gray’s Garden Centers handed over the keys to bankruptcy court Friday.
The locally-owned nursery has served the community since 1940. It has deep roots in the community. But the family-owned business filed for bankruptcy last year, and as of 8 a.m. Friday their fight to keep it open came to an end.
Bankruptcy court trustee Ron Sticka says about a year ago Gray’s sought protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, a level of bankruptcy where Gray’s could reorganize financial details with creditors. But once a business moves into Chapter 7, it’s no longer in the hands of the owners.
“With the conversion of the case to Chapter 7, which is a liquidating bankruptcy as opposed to a reorganization bankruptcy, so I’m here to take a look at the site and try to make arrangements to the extent I can for smooth transition,” Sticka said.
The transition now involves assessing assets.
“Values can be greater if you can hold everything intact and try to market to a willing buyer,” Sticka said.
Sticka says instead of holding a liquidation sale, the bankruptcy court may lean in the direction of selling the entire property and possibly preserve the business.
“This is going to be a temporary bump I think in the road for Gray’s Nursery. It’s a good site. It’s been a good store for many years, and I anticipate there will be some transition,” Sticka said.
But regardless of what happens in the future, the community is saddened with the news, especially those who share a love for the garden.
“I have personally shopped over the many years over, probably 30 years of my buying. And lots of landscaping at my house has been done by wonderful plants that they had there. And it is, it’s families, it was a tradition,” said Shirley Lyons, Owner of Dandelions Flowers.
Lyons says it’s tough to see local business go.
“(It’s) just really sad when any local businesses close especially one that’s had the reputation and the long-term tremendous giving back to the community that grays has done over the years. And I just hate to see any of that vibrancy continue to contract here in Eugene,” Lyons said.
No word yet on if there are any buyers interested or what the future holds for Gray’s. Creditors and representatives will meet next month to talk about what will happen next to the building.