We may not be one of the oldest businesses in Southern Scotland, but we are very proud of our short heritage and track record! Our story really begins in 1995. Both Karen and I had wanted to run our own business for many years – Karen had a background in retail and clerical work and I had experience running six garden centres in Yorkshire.
In 1995 after some time of searching for the right place, we moved to Hetland Garden Centre, taking over the lease using Karen’s maternity pay to finance our working capital. Very apt using the maternity pay, when I think of what has grown and developed from that moment! A new baby plus a new business in the family inspired our energy and enthusiasm to build a sustainable community business, and one which we hoped our own family could one day be part of. We did (and do!) work hard, and with the loyalty of our customers we saw sales grow substantially. In 1998 we took the plunge and actually brought the Hetland site, expanding with a new 3000 square metre shop. Further expansion came in 2002 when we extended the shop area to 7,000 square metres, built an 80 seated tea room and extended the car park.
In 2007 we then extended the shop again to 15,000 square meters and put in a new tea room with 180 seats. We later applied to Visit Scotland and achieved a 4 star rating.
In 2010 we celebrated 15 years in business, and April 2013 saw the launch of our latest venture, ‘Dino Park’, Southern Scotland’s first dinosaur attraction. Early indications are that this will be a great success and a new exciting phase for our business.
As Hetland has grown over the past few years, I like to think that we have remained a true family business with an emphasis on family service and customer care. You will frequently see Karen and I working on the shop floor, still keen to source and sell the very best products we can! The next generation of Wilson’s are also now working in the business. Our eldest son, Martin works in the tea room and our youngest son Matthew works in the garden centre.
It’s been a great journey – and I can’t believe that we have now been operating the business for 18 years! We look forward to the next 18 years and all the exciting opportunities they will bring, and are grateful to all our customers for making it possible.