Anthony Holland has been the man in charge at Corbin Farm and Garden, located on Master Street, for the past 38 years. In that amount of time he has seen the business grow and change, but he is now looking forward to taking things just a little easier when he retires early next month.
“I started here in December of 1982,” Holland said recently. “It’s changed over the years. We started out doing a lot of heavy farm business, but that kind of farming started to die off when tobacco left. It affected us hugely.”
“There are still farms out there,” Holland continued. “But many of the smaller ones have gone away. We used to sell a lot more feed and fertilizer to those farmers, but over time things have really shifted to becoming more of a lawn and garden business.”
The decision to retire was not a sudden one for Holland, as he has had his building up for sale for about the past two years. He does admit, however, that now just feels like the right time to go ahead and close up shop, even though the building hasn’t yet been sold.
“We’ve done a lot of good business here,” Holland explained. “But I’ve done this for 42 years now, and it’s just time. I will really miss my customers, though. I’ve gotten to know most of the people who come in here on a first name basis. I’ve seen kids who have grown up to have children of their own. I’m going to miss that, but it’s just time.”
As for if current conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic weighed into his decision to retire, Holland explained that, in the beginning, the situation actually had a positive effect on his business. “Everyone was getting outside and gardening,” he said of the spring season.
Things quickly took a negative turn, however, when Holland suddenly found himself unable to get many of the items in stock that his customers were asking for. He suspects that manufacturing companies having to send home a large percentage of their workforce was a major contributing factor to the problem, and he fears things could get worse as the year progresses.
While COVID-related troubles have made things more difficult recently for Corbin Farm and other stores like it, Holland seems to consider it as more of a sign that now is the time to go ahead and make a move that he’s already been contemplating for a while.
So, what will Holland be doing now that this chapter of his life is coming to an end? He said he plans on taking about a week off to relax before coming right back to the store to tie up any loose ends that may be left. In large part, that will concern selling off any remaining merchandise, and making sure that nothing is left unaccounted for. “There will still be a lot of work to be done,” he explained, adding that more frequent fishing trips will also be in order.
Holland’s wife, Shirley, is saying goodbye to Corbin Farm and Garden as well, as is Ken Proffitt, who has worked at the store as long as Holland himself.
A retirement sale is currently ongoing, with most everything in the building marked down to between 25-50 percent off. As of now, the final day of operation is planned to be Thursday, August 6.