Carrying on the legacy of a Granville staple, there are two new owners and a slight name change to a major source of Granville pride.
Van Riper’s Gardens is now Van Riper’s Greenhouse and is owned and operated by John and Diane Kent. The prior owners, Ralph and Judy Van Riper, both passed away last year after operating the greenhouse for 17 years.
“It’s been kind of bittersweet because I’ve been part of their family for 30-plus years and helped them out working here, helped them out at their house and I’m really good friends with the girls,” Diane Kent said. “Bittersweet but it is fun and nice because it was Ralph and Judy’s dream for us to take over for them.”
The Kents purchased the property for an undisclosed amount in late-December.
For the first year, operation and selections to choose from will look mostly the same as usual due to the impact of the pandemic. The Kents anticipate to start hanging baskets in three weeks and opening for retail the first weekend of May, staying open until they run out of products, per usual at Van Riper’s.
The continuation of the tradition of donating the famous bubblegum petunias to the Village of Granville’s Main Street was a requirement in the transaction from the Van Ripers to the Kents.
“Judy and I had a sit-down shortly before she passed away and she said, ‘you always have to provide the town with the Bubblegums’, and I said ‘I promise!’” Diane Kent said. “They loved this town and community and I’ve gotten to. We live in Manchester but I’m over here during the summertime and the springtime almost every single day.”
For those that are skeptical about change, especially those caused directly by the pandemic’s regulations, the Kents wanted to provide a sense of comfort while showing appreciation for the community and the Van Riper family.
“I think quality, is most important,” Diane Kent said. “That was one of Ralph’s biggest pet peeves was if it didn’t look good, we would send it back to what we called ‘the hospital.’ It had to look perfect. I think we’re known for quality and for reasonable prices. We’ve had that comment many times. You’ll expect same product, same quality and the same faces. All of the girls are coming back, Andrea (Guest) was their very first employee and she’s great because the community knows her.”
John Kent recently retired from working in the telephone business and is excited about staying busy for a short time and then taking a vacation at the end of the work season.
“We enjoy it,” John Kent said. “We think we’re going to do a great job and we are going to respect the community the way they respect us. I think we’ll have fun.”