Photos by Libby Rogers
As one of the largest and most complete garden centers in the area, Kim’s Home & Garden Center offers something for everyone for their gardening, landscaping, and decorating needs, and was recently voted Best Garden Center in Texas by Best Things Texas. The motto states, “Kim’s Home and Garden Center…Where Great Gardens Begin, Since 1985.” Their first day of business was on January 2, 1985. They were incorporated in 1987 and have been in business ever since, according to owner Kim Bius.
Originally from Aransas Pass, Kim came to Sam Houston State University, earning her degree in 1983. “Gardening has always been a part of what we do, and of the old southern culture, dating back before the time of the Alamo,” Kim stated, referring to her long family lineage of gardeners, that included both her grandmother and great-grandmother.
Kim’s Home & Garden Center is located at 194 Interstate 45, Huntsville, Texas, and for the past 34 years, they have been providing quality service and products to customers in Walker County and the surrounding areas, within a 75 mile radius, including: Magnolia, Montgomery, Tomball, Buffalo, Trinity, Centerville, and Livingston, as well as all of the Lake Conroe area. Kim estimates their customers are mostly homeowners, with approximately 60 percent women, and 40 percent men. When people shop in this type of retail, they often shop as a couple. At Kim’s Home & Garden Center, they offer everything from outdoor to indoor decor, a wide variety of trees, shrubs, houseplants, tropicals, annuals, and perennials, much of which is seasonal. They also have expert consultants, nursery professionals and landscape designers available onsite, as well as knowledgeable sales professionals. “They’ve all been with me a long, long time…15 to 20 years!” said Kim. “We’re very good at what we do. We always have our ears to the ground, listening to ‘what is trending,’ and we can generally spot a trend 2 years before it actually hits,” she added.
Kim’s Home & Garden Center has made a career of giving their customers the best in the industry. They are all Texas Certified Nurserymen Professionals (TCNPs), and their landscape designers are Texas Certified Landscape Professionals (TCLPs). To maintain their certifications, associates are all required to take refresher courses to earn CEUs on an annual basis. “To be the best in the business, you have to prepare well,” said Kim. “We all started from knowing nothing and became experts through years of experience.” Associates at Kim’s Home & Garden Center also attend various markets throughout the year to select their merchandise. They easily come in contact with at least 1,800 vendors on a yearly basis. All the merchandise comes from around the world including Costa Rica and South America, among others. After 34 years, a business can become very well-established, and make lots of connections.
According to Kim, there aren’t many of these garden centers around, but the ones that have made it have evolved over time, and have been open to change, willing to ‘change on a dime’ in order to progress. When she first started in ’85, they were more of a traditional garden center. “Everything in the store is in response to customer demands,” said Kim. Over the years, they listened to their customers’ requests and were willing to take risks. “Sometimes, you have lines of merchandise you think are going to do great, but end up flopping, so you move it out, and move on to the next thing. Like any successful business, you have to find your niche.”
In the landscape and design departments, they offer both commercial and residential landscape design and installation services, with basic and estate design packages. Their projects can be seen throughout Walker County. More recently, they provided the landscape for the West Hill Development, and much of their work can also be admired on the main SHSU campus, as well as the golf course at Bentwater Yacht & Country Club. They are fully bonded and insured, and have been a Texas HUB since 2005. In their lawn and garden section, shoppers can find a distinctive selection of outdoor decor, including: water fountains, birdbaths, wind chimes, patio furniture, and so much more! According to Kim, “Folks who love gardening love to travel. They might visit this store one day, and another garden center another day. Our uniqueness sets up apart from the ‘big box’ store. That’s what keeps us in business.”
Today, people really want the individual customer service treatment they can only get in a “non-franchise.” “Millennials particularly, want a kinda funky, family-owned shopping experience.” Kim’s Home & Garden Center is dedicated to providing customers with a unique shopping experience for the entire family! Customers often arrive with their kids and pets. On a busy day, it’s not uncommon to have multiple dogs inside the store, all at once. In fact, before he passed, Kim’s dog “Captain,” an 18-year old Cocker Spaniel, was a well-known and loved store dog. Nowadays, “Lucy,” an associate’s dog, is frequently seen pattering throughout the store, greeting customers. As part of the full experience, Kim’s also has a gourmet food department, and generally serve snacks and gourmet coffee daily.
Another popular section at Kim’s is the year-round Christmas department, which officially opens up around Labor Day, but this year, they will take a small section and showcase it all year long. “We have one of the best holiday showrooms in Texas,” said Kim. Their guest registry shows customers visiting from Michigan, Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and many others. “If someone is new to this area, they will likely stop by, and we’ll make recommendations on local restaurants and businesses they can try out. Huntsville is really growing, and with growth comes new home development. Many new customers are new to this area,” said Kim. All these new folks coming in are bringing new ideas, new purchasing and marketing levels, which also allows us to reach a different market that we’ve never reached in the past. It’s a change for the better,” added Kim.
As spring arrives, Kim’s Home & Garden Center prepares for an incredibly busy year. Since many people unfortunately lost a good portion of their plants and gardens due to recent cold and rainfall, many will be stopping at Kim’s Home & Garden Center for new supplies. If you are in need of any products and services that Kim’s has to offer, stop by the store and speak to one of their professional consultants or staff professionals. Their products are all U.S. grown from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.
Ultimately, Kim explains, “This is the kind of business you either love or hate. There’s no in between. We don’t do it for the money…it’s a labor of passion. I personally enjoy making things beautiful. God has a plan,” she continued, “and in 2007, when I was trying to figure out which way to go, He led me in this direction. Through my journeys, I have discovered that when you keep beating your head against the wall, and there’s confusion, you’re probably not on the right path, but when things go smoothly and you are at peace, then most likely, you are on the right path. It’s a whole lot of steppin’ out on faith, in thin air.”
194 Interstate 45, Huntsville, Texas