HUMBOLDT PARK — Despite the winter that seemed would never end, Humboldt Park gardening supply mainstay Adams and Son Gardens is as busy ever — albeit a bit later than usual.
"I think everyone's excited," said owner Tony Adams, the "son" in Adams and Son. "This past weekend when we had 50-, 55-degree weather it was nuts in here. We were swamped."
Still, the main rush of gardeners looking to buy their vegetable starter plants, annuals and herbs will have to wait, with planting times pushed back by weeks.
"Instead of looking at an April 1, maybe an April 5 start [to the busy season], we're looking at maybe [an April] 25th start," Adams said. "The weather won't let us bring all our annuals, all our veggies — we haven't brought any veggies yet because of the cold."
What herb plants the store does have stocked now had to be brought back in from the cold.
Adams, though, clearly knows what he's doing. The store is stocked to the ceilings with lush, green plants with nary a shriveled brown leaf in sight.
"I'm 33 now and I started when I was 12 in 1992, so I definitely have experience in the field," he's says with a little chuckle. "It's all I know."
It was in 1992 (Adam said the 1993 date listed on the website is a mistake) that his garden-enthusiast father, also named Tony, opened the shop.
With his dad in semi-retirement, the younger Adams now runs the business, which boasts its own greenhouses in Indiana. Adams said that's what enables the independent shop to keep prices low and compete with big-box stores. Plus, Adams said the store has plenty to offer that big-box stores can't.
"It's family owned, so it's more homey," he said. "We start conversations with people. We talk to them. People enjoy chitchatting while shopping."
Adams said he knows many of his customers on a first-name business because they come in time and again looking for seeds, plants, pots or maybe just a bit of his green-thumb advice.
"A lot customers that come in love to pick my brain," he said. "It's very hard to stump me with questions about gardens and flowers and stuff like that."
As for whether he thinks the late start to spring will have any effect on his bottom line, Adams said he didn't think so.
"I don't think it'll hurt business because people have been trapped indoors for so long, they can't wait to get out and plant," he said.
Adams and Son Gardens is at 1057 N. California Ave. It's open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.