40-year garden center sells to respected dog sanctuary
We do not concern ourselves with the quantity of time they have left rather the quality of life we can provide for that time.
One of Mt. Juliet's most iconic and oldest locally-owned businesses has decided it's time to close shop.
In what owner Hale Moss said was a "bittersweet" decision, Moss' Florist and Garden Center on Lebanon Road in north Mt. Juliet finalized its sale on Friday after 40 years in operation.
The new owners are Michael and Zina Goodin who operate the very much-respected Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mt. Juliet. They will relocate their dog sanctuary to the Moss location and begin operations there mid-January 2016.
"We are the old dogs now," Moss quipped. "We are now celebrating 40 years as Moss'. This is good timing for us. It's bittersweet, but we've been here a long time. We've got a lot of great customers and memories."
Moss opened the current floral and garden center in 1977, but his father and two uncles opened the place originally in 1952 as a feed store.
Moss said they are still discussing whether or not they will still operate a smaller scale version of the floral business in another location. Or he said he and his wife, Brenda, might simply take a breather and finally relax.
"I'm going to take time to just look at the cows," he said with a smile.
As for Brenda, he said, "She might go for the traveling part!"
"We are excited about what's going to happen here," Moss said. "Our biggest fear when this time came would be someone would buy the place, bulldoze it and replace it with a fast food restaurant. The Goodins plan to preserve the integrity of the building."
Mt. Juliet's oldest location now for older dogs
It only seems fitting a place committed to preserving and honoring the sunset years of castoff senior canines will transform one of Mt. Juliet's veteran footprints.
Zina said the move at first started out on a note that wasn't the most pleasant.
"Actually, we turned a negative into a positive," she said.
She and her husband opened Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in 2012. The sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operated in the Goodin's house and the next-door house owned by their son. Between the two homes, 50 senior dogs live in a comfortable, homelike environment cared for by the Goodins and three staff members.
"A few neighbors thought OFSDS was getting 'too large' for the neighborhood," Zina explained.
On Aug. 19, the Zoning Board determined OFSDS needed to move their "business" activity out of the neighborhood within 60 days, according to Zina.
She said while the number of dogs in the two homes remained somewhat steady, growth in the organization soared through the Forever Foster Homes in the Middle Tennessee area. Today, OFSDS is caring for 150 dogs in these Forever Foster Homes.
Zina and Michael's organization pays for all vetting, preventatives and medication for these dogs so they never have to go to a shelter again.
Ironically, the neighbors didn't really complain about the dogs in the two homes, but more about the three staff members.
"We were considered multi-use," Zina explained.
Negative ruling into positive outcome
With a glass-half-full mentality, within a few weeks of the ruling OFSDS thought they found a suitable new location in Mt. Juliet, but the deal fell through.
"The landlord decided against leasing to 'the dogs,'" Zina said.
A huge fund-raiser was held over Labor Day weekend, and the results were so good the Goodins were able to consider purchasing a new location for the sanctuary.
OFSDS has a tremendously large and supportive group of Facebook followers and they came together with "incredible generous donations," enough so the Goodins had the means to purchase a new home.
OFSDS has over 1.6 million followers on Facebook in the U.S. and around the world.
Zina said when the Moss' put their business up for sale in September; they immediately put in an offer. In record time the purchase is was completed. And while the 60-day deadline has passed with the city zoning board, the relocation is moving forward the City said they would work with OFSDS, according to Zina.
Senior dog haven
So how will Moss' transform into a golden year haven for veteran dogs?
There will be a huge upgrade, according to Zina. The building is 7,200 square feet with warehouse space and a large area to convert into a homelike environment.
Zina explained their extensive plans. On the right side of the building they will put separate rooms with a large play area for the dogs; a place prospective forever foster "parents" can visit and hopefully fall in love with a sweet senior.
The middle of the store will have a gift shop with their brand items, for both pups and humans for sale. Also in the shop will be artwork and other dog-related products.
There will be an isolation area, a grooming area and vet area, also. The warehouse will be kept for storage, since it does and have heat and air.
One of the several greenhouses will be kept for a rainy day play area for the dogs and the nearly two acres of land has a park like environment with large trees, landscaping and place for the dogs to run around.
First order of business is fencing the area.
Some other plans Zina revealed are monthly workshops, their annual "brunch with the dogs" event and music.
"We, of course, will work with the Moss family on their transaction out of their floral business," said Zina. "We are very excited to be up front and center in Mt. Juliet and will continue to work closely with the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter and other area shelters to provide homes for senior dogs who might otherwise never have a chance to leave the shelter."
Senior dogs are among the most unadoptable due to medical problems, shortened lifespans and desire for puppies and young dogs. The average dog in their program live for two additional years. Most come from local and sister county shelters.
Since inception of the program four years ago, 400 dogs have been rescued. OFSDS pays out $15,000 on vet fees monthly, freeing the forever-foster families from this obligation. These fees are from donations to the organization.
Zina said they are so thankful to everyone who helped get them to this point.
Inception of sanctuary
Both Zina and Michael are retired engineers from Connecticut. They moved to Tennessee in 1994.
In 2001 they got into retail with Plato's Closet and still own two Plato's and Clothes Mentor.
Retired in 2000 from engineering, they volunteered with Middle Tennessee Golden Pet Rescue in 2010. Zina was so involved she served on the board.
"We began to see the problems with senior Golden Retrievers not being adopted," Zina said. "And all of this has evolved."
Lucy-Lu was OFSDS's first dog, picked up from a neglected life, confined to a cage. She was underweight, sick and expected to die.
"When she was nursed back to health she came to live with us, hit our yard, bounced and ran and never looked back," Zia said.
She lived for four more years.
"We say no matter what their past is, they can leave it in the past," Zina said.
A fitting passing of the torch
And while both Hale and Brenda Moss are reflective about the sale of their beloved business, the fact they managed down economies, competition and a changing work world four decades is a major feat.
Hale suffered a stroke two years ago and he said he's slowly begun to heal. He does walk with a cane, but is able to drive. He is a major player on the Wilson County fair scene and will still be involved with that and his other civic organizations.
"I think I'll just enjoy living life," Brenda said with a laugh. "It's been wonderful in this community. We've had so much support for our small business."
She said no one else in their family expressed interest in taking over the business.
"Then, your options are limited," she said. "This is not your traditional flower shop. It's a gift shop, garden center, floral shop and more. It's just a lot and it's not easy."
Brenda said they've met "wonderful people and doing what they did for 40 years was a gift they will never forget. We are excited about the new owners."
She said she plans to travel around to small towns across the U.S. and just explore.
Moss' will remain in business until Dec. 23. Their last annual Christmas open house is this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"But, while much of the old is gone, there are a lot of good new people here and a strong civics community," Moss said.
Moss said true, old Mt. Juliet is fading fast.
But, he stuck it out a long time. In kind, they were Mt. Juliet's "gift" to the community and will be sorely missed. The torch has been passed.
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at email@example.com.