In 2005 Al's Garden and Home opened our Sherwood store, a 10.5-acre state-of-the-art garden center filled with annuals, perennials, nursery stock, fountains, pottery, garden supplies, and a high-end gift department.

A Big Step for the Bigej Family

Not long before that opening day, a vacant lot sat on Roy Rogers Road, approximately in the middle of nowhere. In an isolated and rural part of town, where opening any business - not to mention the largest garden center in the area - was a huge endeavor for the Bigej family, they pursued their dream of growing their business that started out in an unused chicken coop off Highway 99E in Woodburn. Fifteen years later, the Bigej family credits the Sherwood community for the store’s success:

“So much has happened over the 15 years we’ve been here,” says Mark Bigej, co-owner and COO of Al’s (and Al’s grandson). "So many lessons learned, but because of the support of the community and our amazing team, we have been able to make the dream we had in 2003 a reality!”

This weekend, we are celebrating the opening day of the Sherwood store, looking back on 15 years of growth as a company, applauding staff that has acted more like family, and appreciating the magic that can happen over 15 years with a supportive community. As Mark says, “The Sherwood community is the reason we are where we are today.”

Memories of Building at Roy Rogers

Mark remembers when they decided back in 2003 to open the store in Sherwood. “We had our eye on the area for a while and Dad (Al’s son and co-owner, Jack Bigej) had an industry contact - the former owner of Fisher Farms - who told us about Roy Rogers being completed and wanted to know if we were still interested in the area. We were, so we went out to look at the area. We were also looking at another location in Gresham and decided to move this direction instead.”

The Sherwood community (and a lot of concrete) are the foundation of our business!

Dorothy Russo, Chief of Growing Operations, (and granddaughter of Al) says, “I remember being so excited and nervous to open the store. I heard a lot of positive feedback and excitement about us being there and I was hoping we could live up to everyone’s expectations.”

“We were wide eyed, had a big dream and were naive enough to not know any better,” says Mark, “so we went for it. Ignorance was bliss – we had no idea what we were getting into. We had to learn a lot. If we had known then what we know now, we probably wouldn’t have done it because it would have sounded too daunting.”

Building More than a Business

"Because of the support of the community and our amazing team, we have been able to make the dream we had in 2003 a reality!"

Dorothy recalls, “When we opened, our staff was AMAZING! We had an image of what to expect but like Mark said, there were things we hadn’t thought about and surprises around every corner. The team - and I mean the entire team across the company, not just the ones that worked in Sherwood - took it in stride and really pulled together to make it all happen. I was, and continue to be, very proud of our Al’s family.”

Mark agrees, “We’re certainly glad we went for it – but it was definitely more work than we anticipated. A ton of growing pains, but we had the team and support to make it happen.”

Building the Community for the Next Generation

Thinking about the future, Mark’s hope is that “we see another generation that loves to get their hands dirty, that is creative and not afraid to try new things. I think gardening is going to become more and more important for mental and physical health as we become more reliant on technology. We will continue to need to be in touch with the Earth. There’s a lot to be said about gardening – growing your own food or even decorating your home or apartment with plants inside and out. Touching nature – nothing can replace that experience. I also truly believe plants will play a huge role in saving our environment – from carbon sequestering, to providing possible alternative energy sources, to nutrition."

15 years later, and it's still a family affair.

Thank you Sherwood!

“The community in general has been SO supportive over the past 15 years,” says Mark. “Many of them had never heard of Al’s when we built this store. They are the reason we are where we are today. It was a huge gamble to build this store where we did - but they made the reality it is today possible. We have nothing but love for everyone in this area.”

Come celebrate a fruitful 15 years at Sherwood with us. August 13-17, in honor of 15 years, all four Al’s locations will be offering 15% off everything in the store (excluding special order, delivery, gift cards).

Visit us at the Sherwood store on August 15th where we will have special surprise giveaways throughout the day and you'll get to take home a free succulent plant!

You will also have an opportunity to partner with us to give back to the community. This year, the Sherwood School District will be struggling to provide every student with school supplies, computers and internet connection. When you check out at the register, you will be asked if you would like to donate $1, $5, or $10 to the Sherwood School District and Al’s will match every dollar given up to $5,000.

Sherwood is a special place and has proven to be a welcoming community for Al’s. Thank you for your support throughout the years. We look forward to many more years, gardening and growing together!