CT Store Closes After Nearly 75 Years In Business: 'Heart-Wrenching Decision,' Owners Say

A beloved family-owned business in Connecticut that sold plants, trees, perennials, and more to countless families over the decades has permanently closed after 74 years. 

Shelley's Garden Center, located in Branford, has permanently closed after 74 years in business.
Shelley's Garden Center, located in Branford, has permanently closed after 74 years in business. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

Shelley's Garden Center, located in Branford at 217 Main St. (Route 146), closed its doors on Sunday, April 30, the business's owners announced on social media. 

Originally started in 1949 by Norm and Marion Chambers, the garden center began as a produce stand at Marion's family's restaurant, Smitty's Stonewall Cafe. 

After several years of being referred to as "The Stand," Norm and Marion were able to save enough money to move a few blocks down the road to the spot where the business would stay for decades to come. 

There, the business still only sold produce until 1972, when it began to expand to selling plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, fertilizers, and soils. Soon, it became a full-service garden center and sold plants that ended up in many Branford residents' yards. 

The garden center's name came from Norm and Marion's first-born child's name, Michelle. Although the first sign bearing the new name incorrectly spelled it as "Shelley's" instead of "Shelly's," the name stuck, and the sign was never corrected. 

As Norm and Marion's family grew older, their children Shelly, Norman III, and John began to help out at the store, as well as John's eventual wife Yvette Phenix Lennon. The help from their children allowed Norm and Marion to "lightly retire," according to a post on social media from the garden center. 

"Family has been our main focus, as was always the case!" the owners added. 

Although the garden center enjoyed continued success and made countless memories over the years, the recent death of Marion prompted the family's decision to close. The decision was made "with a heavy heart and much consideration," the owners wrote online. 

"Although this is such a heart-wrenching decision for us to make, many of our reasons are outside the realm of our control," they wrote, adding, "We would like to thank you, our friends and loyal patrons. We appreciate you and cherish all of the good years we have had alongside you." 

Although the garden center has closed, its website and social media pages will be maintained as it evolves into "whatever the future may have in store for us," the family wrote. 

" By the grace of God, we will continue to make happy memories!" they continued. 

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