Blooming good garden centre win

Blooming good garden centre win

Proprietor Christine Agnew is pleased and proud that her McCourt’s Garden Centre in Millicent has been judged by her peers to be the best garden centre in regional South Australia for 2024.

After being short-listed for the rare honour, three industry judges inspected the Davenport Street facility and quizzed Christine about all aspects of the business.

It all came to a head at a recent gala dinner in Adelaide when the prizes in all categories were announced.

“It is exciting for me as McCourt’s Garden Centre was chosen by my industry peers,” Christine said.

“We were assessed on such areas as sustainability, customer service and innovations.”

The latest accolade goes with a similar award for McCourt’s Garden Centre in 2007.

The centre had its origins in the 1990s in a George Street building and yard which formerly housed a stock firm and is now the Ignition Fitness gymnasium.

Christine joined the family business as its manager in 1998 and seven years later bought it outright.

Her move to Davenport Street came the following year as she bought a derelict stone building which was built as a Bible Christian Chapel in 1885.

“Our stonemason ‘Plum’ Werchon reported the walls of the building were structurally sound,” Christine said.

“The old church became the base for the relocated garden centre.

“We bought the adjoining stone cottage in 2010, renovated it and opened it as McCourt’s Garden Café in 2013.”

One of the winning attributes of McCourt’s Garden Centre has been its knowledgeable staff who can assist customers with their gardening queries.

Current staff Pearl Bellinger, Rachelle Cotton and Karen Mitchell are all qualified horticulturalists.

Indeed, Pearl proudly clocks up 25 years with the McCourt’s Garden Centre in 

At the other end of the age scale, numerous local teenagers had their first taste of paid employment at McCourt’s Garden Centre before going to careers in various fields.

For example, pharmacist Eliza Baker and veterinary surgeon Dr Izzy Jackway both undertook retail traineeships lasting 12 months.

Christine is reluctant to single out individuals but appreciates the large number of loyal and local customers.

“I will make an exception for Millicent resident Alice Cruickshanks who was one of our very first customers,” she said.

“Alice often drops in for a chat.

“We are seeing a lot of newcomers to Millicent who have been attracted here on account of the affordable housing and mild weather.

“As McCourt’s Garden Centre specialises in coastal plants and alkaline-loving plants, we see a lot of people from Beachport, Southend, Robe, Glencoe and Mount Gambier.

“We added an in-house florist in 2016 and we use all local flowers.

“McCourt’s Garden Centre uses flowers from the Banksia Company at Furner, other local growers and from our own stocks.

“We like to say our flowers are ‘grown here’ and not ‘flown here’.”

Christine is ever on the look-out for opportunities to promote her business.

She arranged for TV personality Sophie Thomson to come to McCourt’s Garden Centre to mark its 15 years in business and hundreds passed through the gates to hear this expert.

Another avenue for promotion for Christine is a regular column on gardening topics in The SE Voice.

She has provided a $500 voucher for the champion rose at the Millicent Show for over a decade and sponsors local sporting clubs and schools.

Trading on 360 days of the year can be draining for any business proprietor but the latest accolade shows Christine Agnew’s efforts do not go unnoticed!

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