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New owners at Gartzke’s

Kevin and Sarah Zabel buy the floral and gift store in Blue Earth

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Feb 14, 2021

Sarah and Kevin Zabel took over ownership of Gartzke’s Floral and Gift store in downtown Blue Earth on Monday, Feb. 1. Previous owners Denny and Diana McTamaney will continue to own and operate Gartzke’s Greenhouse. The Zabels are pictured inside the store in the photo, above.

A Blue Earth business that has been around since 1933 is going to continue on, but now under new ownership.

Or, at least part of the business is going to have new owners.

Gartzke’s Floral and Gift Shop, located on Main Street in downtown Blue Earth, was sold as of Monday, Feb. 1.

Previous owners Denny and Diana McTamaney sold the retail store to Kevin and Sarah Zabel. However, the McTamaneys kept the Gartzke Greenhouse portion of the business and will continue to operate it.

The story of how this business deal came to pass goes back a ways.

The Zabels were the owners of the Rustic Board, located in the Blue Earth mini-mall building, alongside of Gartzke’s Floral and Gifts, and the two couples got to know each other.

“We would chat a lot,” Sarah recalls. “We really got to become friends.”

About a year and a half ago, the McTamaneys moved their Gartzke’s Floral and Gift store down the block a little ways.

“Then COVID came and we had to close the doors to the public at our Rustic Board business,” Sarah Zabel says. “Eventually we had to shut it down, move out and run it out of our home.”

The McTamaneys were still able to operate Gartzke’s on a limited basis, despite the shutdown, with the doors locked for a while, but still taking orders and making deliveries.

“Diana called me and said they had lost an employee and needed help and asked me if I would be interested,” Zabel says. “So I came to work here last year, at the greenhouse and the store.”

They started to joke a little about Sarah taking over the store.

“Diana would say, so, do you want to buy a flower shop, and we would laugh about it,” Zabel says. “Then about last August we started to seriously talk about it.”

Sarah and her husband Kevin, who works at Bevcomm, discussed it during a summer vacation and came back and decided to go for it.

“And here we are today,” Sarah says. “We decided to keep the name the same. After all, it is a well-known business and has been around for 60 or 70 years.”

She plans a few small changes in the store, but not a lot right away. They will continue to focus on flowers, plants and gifts.

“We have two great employees, Tammy Meyers and Lexi Rivera,” Sarah says. “So we will continue the excellent customer service at the store.”

Zabel’s husband, Kevin, is going to stay working at Bevcomm, but will help out at the store as much as he can, doing deliveries and possibly making wooden items for sale.

“He did try and make a floral arrangement the other day,” Sarah says. “His cousin and his aunt bought it and gave it to his grandmother.”

Kevin Zabel says it was his first and last attempt at floral arranging. He plans on sticking to delivering the arrangements, not making them.

The couple’s two children, Khloe, 11, and Bennett, 9, are also excited about the purchase of the business and want to help out as much as they can.

“They are very excited for about five minutes and then not so much after that, however,” Kevin admits.

Sarah says they took over the business at one of the busiest times of the year for flowers – Valentine’s Day.

“That is good for business, of course, but we are very busy for our first week,” she shares. “It means we have jumped right in to get ready for Valentine’s Day.”

Sarah says she loves doing the arrangements and working with the flowers and the gift items, but there is another part of the work she feels is very rewarding.

“I actually like doing the deliveries,” she says. “It is fun and so nice to see people’s reactions to getting flowers,” she says. “Especially older people, it can cheer them up and just give them a big smile and make them so happy.”

Diana McTamaney also agrees that flowers always make people happy. She and her husband Denny bought the business 13 years ago from Duane and Bonnie Gartzke.

“They had purchased it from Duane’s parents in 1972, I believe,” Diana says. “And Duane’s parents had purchased it back in 1951.”

Diana says the main reason they wanted to sell the retail store now was it had become difficult to keep up with running both the floral and gift shop on Main Street and the Holland Street greenhouse.

“We will still have our big greenhouse sale in the spring and we are going to grow a lot larger variety of plants,” she says. “And we will work on our specialty gifts.”

Those would include Denny’s laser engraved items and now he will do some routering on other types of items.

“And I have owned a pottery wheel and kiln for many years, but I have not used them since we moved to Blue Earth,” she says. “So I plan on getting back to making pottery and filling them with succulents.”

They plan on opening the little store building/office at the greenhouse starting in June for limited hours, to sell these specialty items.

Both couples are happy and excited with plans for the future.

“I know that if I have questions I can still call Denny and Diana,” Sarah says. “They have already been a big help. And we will still work together, getting plants from the greenhouse.”

One ironic item in the store is the customer service counter.

“Kevin had made it and it was for sale in our Rustic Board store,” Sarah relates. “The McTamaneys bought it from us when they moved to this location. And now, we own it again.”