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This story is part of our Cavalcade special edition on local businesses. Read the rest of the stories here. 

BOISE — Just like every other business had to adjust when the novel coronavirus swept across the country last spring, Cloverdale Nursery in Boise was no different.

Except the changes for Cloverdale eventually turned out to be positive.

With people spending more time at home, they took up projects to improve their property more often than in previous springs. So Cloverdale experienced a surge in customers, co-owner and yard manager James Kidd said.

“By far and away the biggest year we've ever seen retail-wise in 31 years,” Kidd said.

Cloverdale, at 2528 N. Cloverdale Road in Boise, is mainly a wholesale nursery, and demand from wholesale customers has continued. The difference in the past year has been in retail sales as homeowners took up projects on their own.

Kidd and the staff at Cloverdale initially had to adjust to the increased demand. They’ve made some changes to better accommodate customers and are expecting another big year this spring, too.

“It was a real relief for people to get out and work in their yard,” Kidd said. “I think it was truly therapeutic, and we got a lot of feedback with that.”

The nursery’s space allows for easy social distancing. The staff built another office to allow customers to more smoothly get in and out. More points of sale were opened. While figuring out how to comply with new rules for health reasons, Kidd also figured out how to handle more customers.

Several people visited repeatedly as they worked on home improvement projects. Ornamental flowers, shade trees and privacy screens were among the most popular things people bought.

Home improvement became a trend nationwide in the past year, according to a National Public Radio article. Roughly three in four homeowners completed a home improvement project since the start of the pandemic, based on a survey published in July by Porch.com, an online marketplace that connects homeowners and contractors.

“I think people spending more time in their backyards and things like that probably saw more of a need for privacy,” Kidd said, “and they wanted to create a space that they could enjoy because they'd be spending more time at home.”

Cloverdale’s busy retail season typically only lasted from April until mid-June, Kidd said. Until last year. When people traveled less and stayed home instead of vacationing, the nursery stayed busy throughout the end of the summer, too.

As the spring approaches, Cloverdale is preparing to use what it learned in the past year.

“We've geared ourselves accordingly this year to take care of the same need,” Kidd said.

Paul Schwedelson covers growth, Nampa and Caldwell. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

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