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Our History

Green Things History - Home Green Things was started in 1970 on four acres along the Rillito River in what is currently the Binghampton Historic District by Gordon Sivik and his family.  During the 70’s Green Things focused on growing poinsettias, annuals and some houseplants in a handful of the greenhouses that still exist today.  In 1980 the Eaton family bought Green Things and expanded it into primarily a wholesale houseplant nursery, with a secondary focus on growing poinsettias and annuals for the public and green industry professionals.  The Eatons expanded the offering of nursery supplies such as soil, fertilizers and amendments, trellises, and pottery from Vietnam.  They also expanded the footprint of the growing greenhouses on the existing four acres.  Dan Eaton emerged as the family member in charge of operating Green Things.  He lived on the property, and constructed the first two bays of what today is the Tropical Greenhouse.  The nursery supplies and pottery were housed in a small brown building near the nursery entrance – now known as the west parking lot.  Customer parking was located inside the property, along a wide driveway leading to a loading/distribution shade area in the center of the property.

As houseplants declined in popularity in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Dan struggled to maintain profitability.  The greenhouses were not maintained, the tropical houseplants attracted numerous pests, and the reputation and general quality of the business declined.  At the same time competition increased from other existing, expanding and new nurseries, and as large box stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot started carrying a wide variety of plants at low prices.  The Westenborg family bought Green Things from Dan in 2004.  Jack and Jan Westenborg had business backgrounds in high tech and managing manufacturing and distribution operations.  It was a big leap for Jan, who ended up being tasked to run the day-to-day Green Things operations, from high tech project management and consulting to the low tech business environment of the nursery business.

Green Things History - Horseback in Field The first order of business was to try to restore the nursery’s reputation.  This required repairing the existing greenhouses, cleaning up the northwest acre where old, used equipment and materials were housed, eliminating the greenhouses pests, and generally cleaning up and organizing the property.  Initially the Westenborgs continued with the existing product lines that Green Things was known for – houseplants, annuals and poinsettias with a smattering of shrubs and Vietnamese pottery.  After several years, additional greenhouses were added.  The houseplant business was resumed, and we expanded into the wholesale color growing business.  This involved growing large quantities of seasonal annuals, geraniums, hanging baskets and related color crops.  Professional growers were hired, and the poinsettia business was also expanded.  Green Things became known around Tucson as a primary source for landscapers seeking quality color on a seasonal basis.

During the early 2000’s Pima County delineated the 427 acres surrounding Green Things, on the banks of the Rillito River, as the Binghampton Rural Historic District.  Brandi Fenton Park was also designated, and River Road was rerouted as a cross-town thoroughfare.  This extensive construction ended up blocking access to Green Things, as the old River Road access to Allen Road was removed and replaced with access from a frontage road further north.  All this construction continued for several years and significantly impacted the customer foot traffic.  To maintain revenue levels, Green Things was once again forced back to its wholesale roots, focusing on growing annuals, appealing to florists with tropical plants, and selling poinsettias to churches and local businesses.  We also took on the landscaping at the La Encantada Mall for 10 years.

See a full history of the Binghampton Historic District, dating back to the mid-1800’s, here.

Later, as water shortages exacerbated and annuals fell out of favor locally in Tucson, we expanded product lines into desert-friendly trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers.  The inventory of Asian and Terra Cotta pottery also expanded.  This expansion led to the need for more land to grow, house and sell these outdoor plants.  In 2015 our neighbors to the east moved away.  We were able to purchase their property – 9+ acres contiguous to the existing Green Things property.

Green Things History - Horseback Riding The four existing structures on the new property and the existing home were converted to stores for the newly acquired Zocalo business.  Latin American furniture and folk art seemed the perfect compliment to Green Things’ product lines, moving us into the Home and Garden retail space with a complete offering of merchandise for indoor and outdoor Southwest living!  As part of Zocalo we incorporated products such as outdoor furniture including bar sets, benches, and accent tables, wall art and ceramics, metal garden art and animals, chimeneas, custom trellises, ocotillo fencing and related garden products.  We have now moved to focus increasingly on retail sales, enhanced merchandising, displays, product breadth, and informational displays while continuing to focus on providing top quality service to our green industry professional customers.  We expanded into large and small cactus, yuccas, agaves and related arid plants, as well as very large trees and larger format shrubs.

Today we continue to work to bring the public the best shopping experience for indoor and outdoor Southwest living in Southern Arizona.