Sprouting back in the 21st century: The Seed Company still growing after 92 years

Sprouting back in the 21st century: The Seed Company still growing after 92 years

The owner of a St. John's gardening store that's been serving customers for nearly a century credits the businesses' second life to keeping up with the times.

The Seed Company by E.W. Gaze, originally called Gaze Seed Company, was first opened on Water Street by Peter Byrne's great-grandfather in 1925.

It's been providing seeds, gardening supplies and other services to local green thumbs ever since.

"You see all the old pictures of Water Street when the store first opened in 1925, and there's a big difference between 1925 and today," Byrne told the St. John's Morning Show on Thursday.

Special seeds

On an island known for having a short growing season, The Seed Company has carved out a niche by focusing on selling seeds that have been specifically tried and tested for Newfoundland conditions.

A quick look at the store's website shows dozens of different seeds for root vegetables, flowers peppers and more.

Even though Gaze Seed Company was started by Byrne's great-grandfather, it was sold outside of the family in 1987 after his grandparents passed away.

After 30 years, Byrne decided to buy it back.

"I was in there three years ago and the business had gone down quite a bit over the last five years," he said.

"With the coming of Costco and and the big box stores like Kent and Home Depot and all of that kind of stuff it had kind of lost its place in St. John's — or Newfoundland really."

Power of social media

After bringing Gaze Seed back into the family, Byrne went to work bringing in new products and new brands.

That includes a product called odd socks, which he said surprised everyone by being a huge seller.

Byrne said another thing that helped reinvigorate the 92-year-old store was the hiring of Jackson McLean, an assistant manager who Byrne describes as the store's "social media guru."

"Social media has been huge. It's had a huge impact on our business," he said.

"For instance if we bring in a new product, we will put it on our Facebook page, tweet it or put it on Instagram and yesterday alone we had one new product come in and we sold 12 items yesterday just because we used social media."

If anyone interested in learning more, Peter Byrne will share the history of The Seed Company from its roots as Gaze Seed Co. back in 1925, at a special talk at The Rooms Thursday at 2:30 p.m.