Step back in time at Apache Seeds Limited
Apache Seeds Limited took root in the spring of 1958. Two veteran seedsmen, Frank Close and Leonard Vigneau, decided to open their garden centre in the fastgrowing town of Jasper Place where, unlike neighbouring Edmonton, late night shopping was allowed all week.
The company began modestly, operating from a small rented space of approximately 1,400 square feet. The owner’s connections in the seed industry provided the garden centre with essential core items and a buyout of stock from a local general store gave the young company an inventory of hardware items, paint and glass.
Expansion came quickly and by 1964 they had built and moved into their own new building. The rented space was converted into a small engine repair shop and Apache diversified into power equipment sales. (They were one of the first "Skidoo" dealers in Edmonton.)
In trying to discover the perfect niche for themselves, Frank and Leonard offered several atypical garden centre products and services. These included the manufacture of sweeping compound, skate sharpening, lottery ticket sales and window and screen repairs, all of which eventually gave way to the wide scope of nursery stock, seed, garden items and decor they offer today.
Having found their groove, the company invested in further expansion over the 1970s and 1980s. They increased their parking facilities, their outdoor display area for plant material and their interior shopping space. By the 1990s, a small greenhouse was erected behind the store and the company’s warehouse space was consolidated on the same city block.
With the passage of time, some of the tedious work disappeared, like the unenjoyable task of unloading fertilizers out of boxcars by hand. The advent of plastic cell packs removed the need to carve out individual bedding plants from large wooden flats. The warehouse crew were overjoyed when a forklift became a permanent fixture.
Looking back over the years, there has been a plethora of oddities and different merchandise crossing Apache's counters. Relics and retro items such as the original Chia Pets, Garden Weasels, Flymo floating mowers and of course the ubiquitous plastic pink flamingos.
Today, stepping into Apache Seeds can, to many, feels like a step back in time. The retro signage outside the shop has not changed much, it still advertises hardware items and paint, items they no longer carry. Part of the building retains its original 1960s construction with low, exposed, wooden beam ceilings adding to the nostalgic feel for customers walking through the door. Inside, shoppers can still make their purchases at counters the company has used for decades, only now a modern POS system replaces the old cash register.
While the building may retain its historic ambiance today, Apache Seeds offers some of the newest products and trends on the market. Organic options for fertilizers and pest control are available, along with a full range of plant propagation supplies, garden tools, fertilizers, soil amendments, wild bird feeds and feeders, decor items and of course seed.
Flower and vegetable seeds were once carefully packaged by hand and larger seed volumes were weighed out on balance-beam and platform scales. And while Apache does have more modern digital scales in use, the company has and uses what can only be described as antiquated scales as well. One of them was used in the old City Market on what is now Churchill Square. Most seed packaging is done in volume by large firms nowadays, and Apache discontinued