Tom’s Garden Center, an iconic North Albany business, is scheduled to close at the end of June due to the retirement of owners Tom and Annette Krupicka. But a new garden business could sprout at the same location, perhaps as early as this summer.

Tom Krupicka said the timing was perfect this January to put his and his wife’s retirement plans into motion.

“They say that when you have a buyer, it’s time to sell,” Krupicka said.

Tom’s Garden Center sold for $1.6 million to LT Investments Three LLC, a Corvallis-based firm, according to Benton County records.

“We’ve been in negotiations with a party that is interested in continuing with a similar garden business,” said Logan deVos, a member of LT Investments Three. “We’re hoping everybody can come to an agreement, and that might happen shortly.”

The residents who want to open a new garden business on the site could not be reached for comment.

Tom’s Garden Center has been in business since 1989, when the Krupickas purchased Vollstedt’s Green Thumb on Pacific Boulevard.

They moved the store to a much larger location at 350 Hickory St. NW in 2005, purchasing the property and former grocery store building for $400,000.

Krupicka thanked Bob and Jean Reynolds, who provided critical early financing for the move to the North Albany site, which was far larger than the Pacific Boulevard store.

The sale of the North Albany building and property acts as a de facto 401k for the couple, Krupicka said.

This isn’t the first time the Krupickas have tried to retire. In 2013, the couple sold the business to one of their workers. However, they ended up taking it back less than two years later.

The Krupickas have lived in Tillamook since 2010, but come over to Albany about twice a week.

Krupicka said that he and his wife plan to travel around the United States and spend more time with their grandchildren in retirement. He plans to fish more as well, and he can literally cast a line into the Wilson River off his back porch in Tillamook.

“Annette and I have been at it for 30 years. … You get tired. Last year, I lost some of my school buddies, and you never know when it’s your time,” he added.

Krupicka said his proudest business accomplishment was creating a base of loyal customers.

“Annette and I have tried to be honest, we’ve tried to work with integrity and we tried to give the best products for the best prices we could,” he said.

Tom’s Garden Center couldn’t compete with big box stores on price, but the business became known for knowledgeable customer service.

“People came to talk with us. We could tell them what to grow and how to grow it,” Krupicka said.

Tom’s Garden Center was an attractive purchase for LT Investments Three partly because of its location, deVos said.

“We love that it’s the first piece of real estate that you see as you come over the bridge,” he added.

The zoning also allows for a diverse set of uses and Albany in general has been on the upswing, he said.

Helen Culp was buying cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions, leeks, marigolds and more at Tom’s Garden Center on Thursday, and she was shocked when she heard the news about the business closing.

“What? This is almost as bad as when one of my doctors retired,” she said.

Culp said that she has shopped at Tom’s Garden Center for years because of the knowledgeable and friendly workers.

“This is one of my favorite places,” she said.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.