After 57 years in Federal Way, the Oriental Garden Center will close up shop.
Siblings and co-owners Dave Asahara and Joan Bloedel plan to retire, having run their father’s business since they joined ownership in the 1970s.
“We enjoyed being involved in the community in Federal Way and have gotten to know a lot of people over the course of the years — 57 years,” Asahara said. “I think the thing I’ll miss the most is the customers.”
He said it has become more difficult for small businesses to survive in the current economy, specifically because of the way people shop. That factor, combined with nieces or nephews who are “doing their own thing” and cannot take over the business, are a few reasons why the garden center will close. With an undetermined date, Asahara said they will hold a “Going out of business” sale and close after all of the inventory – including furniture, fixtures and equipment – is gone.
“The deals will be too good to miss,” he said in a news release. “With our going out of business sale occurring at the outset of the growing season, homeowners can expect to find all their gardening needs at our store.”
The new owner, Asahara said, hopes to open an Ace Hardware in its place.
Asahara’s father, Joe Asahara, was a gardener for 17 years before opening up the garden center.
“He and my uncle started off as gardeners, and that was right after the war,” Dave Asahara said. “So, they came back from being interned in concentration camps in Idaho, and they started off gardening.”
Dave Asahara said he heard that Japanese Americans who were out in the public after the war helped the healing process for those who experienced animosity toward them because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Being out in the community really eased the stigma,” Asahara said. “My dad was very gregarious and was very well-liked.”
Joe Asahara’s extensive knowledge in nursery gardening led him to open the Oriental Garden Center with his brother-in-law Kenny Hikogawa at the Federal Way Shopping Center. Two years later, they built the store on Pacific Highway South.
Dave Asahara has memories of “goofing off” with his sister at the garden center on the weekends and helping his dad with the landscaping part of the business as he got older. Over time, they did away with landscaping because of his father’s physical limitations as he aged. Asahara’s uncle eventually passed away from multiple sclerosis, and his aunt helped run the business until the business was handed over to Asahara and Bloedel.
The business has changed over the years in the way they provided for people’s backyard gardening needs, he said,
“As the yards have gotten smaller, because the city has become more urban, the nursery has shrunk down,” Asahara said. “That’s impacted us a little bit.”
They did, however, expand their garden merchandise and add lawn mower and chainsaw repair.
Although Dave Asahara said he has no grand plans after retirement, he does subscribe to the motto, “When one door closes, another opens.”
“We feel privileged to have served Federal Way and the surrounding communities for over 57 years,” he said. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank all our loyal customers for their support and patronage.”
Oriental Garden Center, 30650 Pacific Highway S., is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 253-839-1639.