Wally Kennedy: New kid on the block has well-stocked garden center

May 3—At this time of year, you'll often see me walking the aisles of local garden centers looking for annuals for pots, perennials for the patio and start-ups for the vegetable garden.

I shop everywhere. But there are certain places I visit regularly. I am particularly fond of Sutherland's and the Joplin Greenhouse early in the season, and the clearance sections at Walmart and Lowe's as the season progresses. I like to rescue distressed plants at discounted prices. Yeah, I'm that kind of shopper when it comes to plants. Every garden center should have a clearance section.

But I'm not afraid to spend a little money or drive a few miles to get what I want. For example, this year I shopped at Albert's in Joplin and Atwoods in Webb City to find yellow tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and Anaheim peppers. They can be hard to find. The vegetable garden this year features lots of peppers and a variety of tomatoes for summer harvesting. I like to make salsa. The garden also has cucumbers, onion, radishes, leeks and lettuce. Tomatoes — fresh or canned — are good for you. I feel sorry for the people who can't eat them.

So, when the new kid on the block, Menard's, 3317 S. Geneva Ave., recently opened its garden center, I had to check it out. First, it is convenient to access the garden center at Menard's. There are extra-wide parking spaces near the entrance. You don't have to deal with the traffic that passes in front of the store's main entrance to get to it. That's a big plus for me.

The Menard's garden center was well stocked with many varieties of annuals and perennials, and a fairly good selection of trees and shrubs. It looks like there's room to add more. There were lots of well-watered hostas, petunias, succulents and ground cover in all kinds of color combinations. Prices were competitive. I picked up some hardy petunias. I liked them so much that I went back and got some more. The garden center was busy during both trips.

While making those trips, I took stock of the land around the new store that is available for development. There are at least three building sites for restaurants and retail, maybe more. We shall see who is coming to town next.

Speaking of new garden centers, I can't wait to look inside The Plantery at Henkle's Ace Hardware in Webb City. It looks fantastic.

Big opening

Letting the dust settle before making my first visit to the new Ollie's Bargain Outlet, 1329 S. Range Line Road, seemed like a good idea, but the dust has never really settled. The place has been busy since day 1.

When I visited Ollie's on Wednesday, there was a line of people — maybe 40 or more — waiting to check out. Despite the line, only three of the five cashier's stations were open. After touring virtually every aisle in the store, I made my way to the exit without buying anything because the line was even longer than when I arrived.

So what's all the fuss about? Ollie's has a little bit of everything at discounted prices. We're talking about familiar brands and some that might be new to you. There's food, clothing, housewares, party supplies, toys, books, bedding, flooring, athletic gear and supplies, patio furniture and small appliances. The list goes on and on.

Online reviews of this store have been highly favorable, but some shoppers noted the lack of parking spaces for the disabled near the entrance.

Coming down

The Burger King at 1312 S. Madison St. in Webb City is coming down to make way for a new coffee shop.

7 Brew Coffee, which opened its first local storefront in 2021 at 3347 S. Range Line Road in Joplin, is expanding its territory.

The storefront will be going up against the new Starbucks at 1400 S. Madison St. and the new Scooter's Coffee, 702 S. Madison St.

Contact Wally Kennedy at wkennedy@joplinglobe.com.