Sandy native to retire shop after 30 yearsAug 23, 2018 05:04PM ● By Jana Klopsch
Owner Steve Leak in front of the store he’s owned for over 30 years. (A. Moore/City Journals)
By Allison A. Moore | [email protected]
When Sandy native Steve Leak saw the boarded-up building on the corner of Glenmare Street and Stratford Avenue in Sugar House some 30 years ago, he knew a couple of things: He didn’t want a long commute, he wanted to be outdoors and he wanted to be his own boss.
He watched the place, knew a few people and approached them to see if they could work something out, which they did and Valley Green Landscape Maintenance and Garden Shop was born.
Growing up in the Sandy area, Steve’s grandpa owned a dairy farm “back when Sandy was still country,” Leak said. He worked for Glover Nursery as a boy and for a grower in high school. He got out of the business “to get a real job” and went to work in the trucking industry where he remained for several years and then went back to his roots. Leak started his landscaping business which he did for 10 years “and then I saw this place.”
When Valley Green first opened it was a landscaping business and the garden shop opened later. Over the years Leak said the neighborhood has changed about three times, going from a more commercial environment with a grocery, bakery and even a 7-11 at one point, most of which were changed by the time he started renting the building. “I got to know the owners around here and they are my neighbors, too. I like being part of the community. I’m the old one now, I was the young guy at one time, now they’ve retired, and I am the old guy,” he said.
In the beginning, he worked nights at a freight company for seven years. Finally, he had to make a decision, “and I’ve been scrambling ever since.” He started selling Christmas trees years ago, and then the Pumpkin Patch came along. Wanting to make some money of course, but also knowing that he had to keep things interesting, he bought wagons as a means for the neighbors to cart their pumpkins and trees home. It became a neighborhood tradition. He watched kids grow up, move away and come back with their children. He likes that and he’ll miss it.
People are busier now and in more of a hurry than they used to be “and I hate these” he says tapping the cell phone on his desk. Other than that, like most small businesses it’s been rough at times and when he started he admittedly “winged it.” He says he’s been lucky. He’s doing what he enjoys.
Leak will close his store sometime in the first few weeks of September. He’ll miss it, but he guaranteed he would not idle away in a rocking chair. He enjoys golf, so he’ll do some of that, and ride his bike every day, which he got used to doing around the neighborhood and in front of the store. He will do what he wants. He is a lucky man.
What do people ask him most? “Where will I get my Christmas tree?” Walmart, he answers jokingly.