More than 50 years ago, before Robert Logan started the trading company that would become a downtown garden center, he considered a worm farm.
Logan, a salesman, knew he wanted to hang his own shingle. He figured he could sell worms out of vending machines to fishermen hoping to catch the big one on local lakes.
A few twists of fate later, he ended up opening the Logan Trading Company at the State Farmers Market, then on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh. The company eventually would relocate to Seaboard Station near downtown and grow into the 3-acre center it is today.
But that initial dream, a worm farm, still is part of the way the family traces its story. Logan, who died in 1984, could sell anything, his family says, because he knew how to connect with people.
Half a century later, that’s the principle that guides the family’s work at what is now known as Logan’s One Stop Garden Shop.
“He really understood relationships, and generally people want to buy things from people they enjoy interacting with,” said Logan’s grandson, Joshua Logan, 34, who today oversees operations with his older sister, Leslie Logan Brown.
Their parents, Robert and Julie, retired from day-to-day operations in the last year.
Logan’s is celebrating its 50th anniversary with sales, coupons and promotions throughout the year, including a party for the public on Saturday.
Terry Thompson of Raleigh is a frequent visitor to Logan’s. She’s not an experienced gardener, so she treasures the information employees share about plants.
“They’re so helpful. They show you the way,” Thompson said. “I like supporting them because they’re mom and pop. They’re people who put their business together.”
Move to Seaboard Station
When the trading company opened, Robert Logan sold produce and railroad salvage – products caught between buyer and seller or slightly damaged that still had worth. A few years later, he added plants to the lineup.
Since then, a wide network of Robert Logan Jr.’s siblings, children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews have spent time working in the store, with four generations contributing in some way.
In 1991, after the State Farmers Market moved to Lake Wheeler Road, Logan’s moved to its home in Seaboard Station, a former railroad station.
At the time, the neighborhood off Peace Street was a ghost town, Joshua Logan said. The family has watched the area change, adding restaurants and new retail and growing into a bustling area more connected to downtown than ever.
Over time, Logan’s has added a cafe and a range of home and yard decorations to meet the needs of customers. They also offer educational classes and work closely with local nonprofits, schools and churches through field trips and fundraisers.
The Logan family helped start Raleigh’s Plant a Row program, which encourages gardeners to set aside a portion of their produce to be distributed to local soup kitchens and food pantries. Last year, the program collected 35,000 pounds of food and is aiming for 50,000 pounds in 2015.
Joshua Logan said he wasn’t always sure he would join the family business, but the customers drew him back in. Every day, he learns something new – about people, Raleigh, plants or himself, he said.
He’s proud of the way the center represents the city’s past and future.
“It’s a rare privilege to be able to work on the same thing that your grandfather built, that your father built,” he said.
If you go
Logan’s One Stop Garden Shop will host a 50th anniversary celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at 707 Semart Drive, Raleigh. The event will feature live music, free food, sales and more.