Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

After 28 years, Spring Fresh to close


Lois E. Johnson

Loretta and Don Kooiman are set to retire and will close Spring Fresh Garden Center September 30.

Don and Loretta Kooiman of Spring Fresh Garden Center are retiring after 28 years of business in Moose Lake. The garden center will close September 30.

"We've enjoyed doing this, and enjoyed talking to people," said Don in a recent interview.

"Our customers joined us in welcoming the spring season for 28 years," wrote Loretta in a letter to their customers. "Spring is a special, happy season for those of us who live in Minnesota."

The couple moved to the Kettle River area from Hudson, Wisconsin, before they started the business. Don said he was a toolmaker when they lived in Hudson, but knew there wasn't an opportunity to continue in that business.

He looked to his other talents and interests for earning a living.

One of them was reupholstering furniture.

"I reupholstered furniture for the Carol Lee Decorating Studio in Cloquet," he said. "I had done some reupholstering in Stillwater."

He said one of the customers of the studio was actress Jessica Lange, who has a cabin in the area. He said he even delivered furniture to her home.

Another interest was flowers.

"I've always worked with flowers," he said. "I had a greenhouse when we lived by the Cities. I've always liked the diversity of plant life. Growing flowers shortens the winters."

The couple has had four greenhouses at their home for the past 28 years. Don said they will keep two, but their children will take over the others.

When they first started to bring their plants to Moose Lake to sell, they set up a greenhouse on the lot next to the present location of Spring Fresh. Later, an Armor fuel station was located there.

"We had to set up and tear down every year," he said. "We bought this property when it became available and built the business. We tried a little bit of everything. We sold Snapper and Toro and boat lifts and docks. We also did small engine repair. My sons and I did some landscaping, too."

The property where Spring Fresh is located won't be idle for long. Angela and Lowell Urban bought it early in the year for the future home of Arrowhead Lane Pet Clinic. They have already been remodeling the main office of Spring Fresh for the needs of the clinic, said Don.

As they plan for the future, Don said they'll be busy. "We hope to travel and spend more time working on missions for our faith," he said.

As the couple has been in the process of closing the business, customers have been expressing their sadness.

"People don't want it to go away," said Don.

"Many of you have expressed appreciation for the work that we have done in providing flowers and plants for you," wrote Loretta in her letter. "Thank you.

"This work couldn't have been completed without the help of our children, grandchildren and dear friends. We spent many happy hours working together.

"There is no end to the beauty our Creator has provided. Continue to enjoy it."


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