Over the years we have often been asked, What is a garden centre doing in the middle of nowhere? Let me tell you a story…
Born & bred in Caernarfon, Robin attended Caernarfon Grammar School & went on to study Horticulture at London University. After his studies had ended, he started working in the seed trade as a flower breeder where he met & fell in love with Valerie who had studied Horticulture at Writtle College. They married in 1971, moved to Torquay, had both Justin & Melanie & stayed there until 1980.
Robin & Valerie had a passion for growing things, Valerie, tree’s & shrubs & Robin anything he could grow & sell! They embarked on a project to buy land & with both young children in tow they came home to Wales & in 1981 Fron Goch with three acres of land was purchased.
Over the next couple of years & after buying other bits of land in the area Robin & Valerie worked hard growing fruit & vegetables to supply shops locally in Caernarfon & Bangor. During this time Robin also worked at Glynllifon, so much of the harvesting & selling responsibility was Valerie’s.
The concept of selling the products on site came a few years later when Robin & Justin (aged 8) weeding strawberries in the front field discussed taking a box of lettuces down to the bottom of the drive to see if they could sell them there! They sold them all & the farm shop was born.
The original shop of Fron Goch was a small shed opposite the main house. As a family they grew new potatoes, cauliflowers, runner beans, flowers & all types of soft fruit. The runner beans grew where the cafe is now situated & chrysanthemums where the shop is. The nursery developed on the other side of the railway line & still remains today.
With the arrival of Supermarkets in the 1990’s the family had to diversify to survive. As both Robin & Valerie we’re now both working full time on the nursery, they had introduced shrubs & tree’s, Valerie’s specialty to the range they offered & the business quickly developed. They also found they were moving more & more down the hill as they expanded into producing their own bedding plants.
By 1996 Justin returned back to Caernarfon following work experience in America, full of enthusiasm the family took the decision to close the farm shop & expand. With Melanie returning home after University, they converted the original tomato glasshouse into the shop, expanded the product lines creating the beginning of the garden centre you see today.
Over the next ten years the business grew quickly. Car parking facilities, toilets & customer access were constantly a problem. A major expansion was required. Additional land was bought next door & planning was obtained for a new entrance, car park, toilets & plant area. Along with customer loyalty & the introduction of our popular customer loyalty card, Fron Goch was taking shape.
The next big step for Fron Goch was the development of the restaurant. Developed under the leadership of Melanie, it opened in March 2007. This change the dynamics of the business as a place for the community to gather, both new customers to relax & local family & friends to regularly meet & share news.
Fron Goch today remains owned and run by the Williams family. The ‘family’ may have grown a little bigger now since 1981, with over 100 dedicated members of the team, Fron Goch has evolved into a very special place for the community to come together and enjoy a unique retail experience the most important people, our lovely, loyal customers.
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