When Dale and Claudia Loy first bought Sunnycrest Nursery their knowledge of plants and gardening was limited.
In fact, Dale remembers reading an encyclopedia of gardening in an effort to quickly learn what he needed to run their new Key Peninsula business.
Now, 35 years later, these topics are as familiar to the couple as their customers and community, which has supported their business and reacted with shock to the Loy’s most recent news: They’re ready to retire.
“I’m 70. It’s just time,” Dale said. “It takes a lot of energy and we’re slowing down.”
Claudia, 68, agreed: “There’s some things we want to do and we can’t do along with managing the day-to-day of the nursery. It’s time for a change of lifestyle.”
I’m 70. It’s just time (to retire). It takes a lot of energy (to run the business) and we’re slowing down.
Dale Loy, co-owner of Sunnycrest Nursery
While looking to sell the business, the couple has no plans to leave the Key Peninsula. Claudia is a fourth-generation Key Peninsula resident on two sides of her family and the close-knit community is home.
The couple attributes the success and growth of the nursery to this community connection. When they first returned to the Key Peninsula more than 35 years ago, they worked as caretakers of the Key Peninsula Community Center, a position which quickly familiarized the couple with the community.
The Loys still remain on the board of the Civic Center and integrated with the Key Peninsula community, their friends and neighbors.
“What I’m really amazed at is how emotional people are when they hear we’re leaving (the business),” Claudia said. “Everyone says ‘it won’t be the same!’ And of course it won’t, but it might be better ... There will be some changes, there are always changes in retail.”
The couple is currently in discussion with a prospective buyer, but nothing has been finalized yet.
There’s some things we want to do and we can’t do along with managing the day-to-day of the nursery. It’s time for a change of lifestyle.
Claudia Loy, co-owner of Sunnycrest Nursery
“The goal is to keep it as a garden center and a florist,” Claudia said.
Looking toward retirement, the Loys are looking forward to spending time with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their great-grandson will start kindergarten this fall as the seventh generation to go through the Peninsula School District.
The couple is also looking forward to more time together — outside of work. After 46 years of marriage, the couple has yet to spend a weekend together, though they’ve worked together nearly every day.
“We met in a restaurant,” Dale said. “We’ve always worked together.”
They’re also looking to reclaim their own garden, left largely to its own devices as they’ve spent more than three decades helping others with gardening projects.
“It’s the woods, not a garden,” Dale said, as he and Claudia laughed.
Their advice to the potential buyer is straightforward and inline with their own business model: know your neighbors.
“If you want to do well, you have to be a part of the community,” Claudia said. “It’s too small a place not to be involved.”
Sunnycrest Nursery is located at 9004-B Key Peninsula Highway N and can be reached at 253-884-3937. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.