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Mel’s Nursery closing in September

Mel’s Nursery, a popular plant and gift center at the Division Street Y, is closing its doors in September after 43 years in business.

Owner Sue Nimmer Shaw is telling customers that Wendle Motors is going to take over the property.

A going-out-of-business sale is scheduled to start Friday.

“On behalf of all of us at Mel’s Nursery, we want to thank the community and all of our loyal customers for making Mel’s what it is today,” Shaw said in a written statement.

Shaw and her husband, Mel Shaw, started the nursery in 1970 as a small fruit and plant stand in front of the old Autovue Theater, owned by her father, Morrie Nimmer, at 6800 N. Division St.

In 1952, Nimmer opened the Y Drive-in near where Mel’s is now located.

The current Mel’s shop opened in 1983.

It has since evolved to offer a range of products, including Christmas and gift items.

Mel’s gained a reputation for growing and selling high-quality plants, especially geraniums.

Diane Newton, who manages the shop, said Mel’s became a destination for many local gardeners and gift buyers. Customers would bring out-of-town guests to the shop, especially during the Christmas season.

“We are part of the tradition of old Spokane,” Newton said.

She said customers are “really surprised” when they learn that the store is closing.

Mel’s has had 28 employees during the height of the planting season, including part-time workers.

Newton said Wendle wanted the land for expansion.

Kristen Wendle Goff, president of Wendle Motors, was unavailable Tuesday for comment on the expansion plans.

Spokane County records show that the 3.2-acre property was sold by the Shaws to Wendle Management LLC on July 1 for $3 million.

Sue Nimmer Shaw wrote that she is not retiring and might open a “mini-Mel’s” in the future.

Mario Solares, the longtime head grower at Mel’s, said having the nursery close is difficult for him.

“We have served the community for so long, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s going to be sad for everyone.”