The Gifted Gardener will close its doors for good on July 31 after 28 years in midtown Sacramento, owner David Kwong told me last week.
“I’m looking forward to retirement. I’m 66,” Kwong said. “I did some calculating. I sing with the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus. I’m a founding member. We go on singing trips out of town … every four years, but outside those vacations, I’ve only taken seven vacations in 28 years. I used to travel a lot, and I loved it, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to travel again.”
Kwong said he will begin his going-out-of-business sales with a 20 percent discount on April 1, and he’ll increase the discount monthly until July, when everything will be marked down by 50 percent or more. He urged all customers with gift receipts to come in and use them, as he will not be able to honor them after the business closes.
Longtime customers know that Kwong’s sister-in-law, Taffetta Lassen, and her son, Xian Kwong, have also worked at the store over the last 14 years.
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The Gifted Gardener has not always been at its current location. Kwong started out with just 550 square feet on J Street near See’s Candies. He recalled feeling completely cramped at that site within six months, but he kept the store there for about a year and a half before expanding to 1,100 square feet closer to J and 21st streets.
“I’m an avid gardener,” Kwong said. “I used to work for a bank. I started this business because I couldn’t find gardening items here in Sacramento that I wanted to buy. I had to go out of town to buy what I wanted. I thought, ‘Sacramento’s way too big a community for me to have to go out of town.’ ”
When Kwong moved into 1730 J St. about 15 years ago, he leased 2,700 square feet. His front door was actually on J Street. Today, however, customers enter around the corner on 18th Street. Kwong downsized into half the space a few years ago, after a new landlord doubled the rent. Icing on the Cupcake now leases the front half of the store, Suite A.
“At our old store,” he said, “all our shelves were much lower, and we had a display. Since moving into the back, we’ve increased the height of all our shelving, and we’ve kept 85 percent of our product in half the size. My customers were happy I didn’t lose all that much product.”
Job fair: Young people, ages 16-24, can interview for jobs or internships and learn about the resources available to help them find work at Saturday’s 2017 Youth Job & Resource Fair in downtown Sacramento’s City Hall Plaza.
“Every year, Neighborhood Services will host a Youth Job and Resource Fair, and we have approximately 46 businesses and training agencies confirmed to be at the job fair next Saturday, April 1,” said Kriztina Palone, interim manager of the Neighborhood Services Division. “It’s really an opportunity to apply for both our internship programs but also to learn about businesses that are hiring and other training programs,” Palone said. “They can submit applications. There will be on-site hiring.”
Wendy’s, Carpenters Training, Laborers Local 185 and Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps are among the groups that will be considering potential candidates from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 915 I St. The city also will be looking for about 200 youths to fill four- or five-week summer internships in the Summer at City Hall or #SacYouthWorks programs, Palone said, and they will receive a $300 stipend at the end of their service. “Seasonal jobs teach young people so many lessons – punctuality, responsibility, money management – and allows them to network with people who could become mentors and advocates,” she said.
“For some of these kids, they’ve never had a job before,” Palone said. “This is the first time they’re being exposed to a professional environment, whether it be a small business, a nonprofit or a government agency. We’re really trying to instill in our young people what workforce means, what it looks like, all the different areas it encompasses.”