Small Business Spotlight: Campbell Road Nursery

In 2019, owner Phil Campbell relocated her business, a quarter mile away from the busy intersection of Tryon and Campbell roads.

Phil Campbell has a green thumb — not just for plants, which you might expect as the owner of Campbell Road Nursery, but for growing relationships.

She and her staff have a reputation for customer service and horticultural expertise. Campbell herself is also known for her many acts of generosity, like giving away 600 Easter lilies last spring when area churches couldn’t hold services.

House plants, like this bromeliad, are also available at Campbell Road Nursery.

“It is a blessing for me to be able to offer a child a vegetable plant or flower and see their face light up, or to take a senior adult on a golf cart tour to pick out their flowers,” she said.

Campbell has worked at the business for three decades, buying it from the previous owner in 2003. In 2019, she relocated the business, a move she says was like coming home.

“It all started — retail and wholesale — here at 2804 Campbell Road. When I started in 1991, we were doing both here, with a slot to put your money or check in,” she said.

Phil Campbell has worked at Campbell Road Nursery for three decades, buying the business in 2003.

Campbell slowed down recently to talk about the business.

What are the advantages of the new location?

The traffic on Tryon was becoming a hazard for our customers, with impatient drivers blowing horns and squealing their brakes. So, in January 2019 we loaded up all of our “stuff” — including our cabin which is over 100 years old — and moved a quarter mile down Campbell Road. We are much like a small community in a more rural atmosphere. With the move, we have also been able to combine the efforts of our wholesale and retail staff and equipment.

Dan Wakeley, retail manager, carries flats of annuals. In the foreground, the perennial Lenten rose or hellebore is in full bloom.

Has your vision for the business changed over the years?

We purchased the wholesale division in 2003 and the retail in 2005. Since that time I have shifted to being more retail-oriented, which allows us to have a wider variety of plant material with less volume. This vision also helps our wholesale customers locate plants for their special plantings.

Phil Campbell steps into a greenhouse holding roughly 4,000 pansies.

What has been the best thing about owning the business?

I knew when I found out that the previous owner was selling the business, that I would have to purchase it. One of my biggest rewards from all of my labor of growing flowers is when I can give them away to my church, Cary Presbyterian, schools in the nearby area, children who come in with their parents, and to my friends. I knew if I did not own the business, I could not afford to purchase all of the plants that I would like to give to people.

A water feature gurgles at Campbell Road Nursery, adding to the serene atmosphere.

What has been the biggest challenge as a small-business owner?

My challenge has been and continues to be knowing when to stand back and take a deep breath. There are also challenges with finding employees, although I have been fortunate to have supportive people along the way to help me to take a deep breath.

Workers move pansies and violas out of the greenhouse, ready for retail customers eager for a bit of color in their yard.

Interest in growing food seems to be increasing. How have you responded?

Food crop production is a small part of the wholesale division, however more of our landscape customers are installing gardens for their customers. We have shifted our resources to meet the interest of our retail customers and are offering a wide variety of vegetables, especially for the spring crop. Food crops are much more time-concentrated compared to ornamental crops.

The evergreen Blue Star juniper shows dusty blue before the spring growing season.

Is there a secret to long-term success?

I can look back to 1991, which is when I started working at Campbell Road Nursery, and remember all of the hours I have spent walking the flowers and checking for problems, broken sprinklers, insect damage or disease. It has been a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week workplace. My passion for growing a great quality plant for our customers and having the customer relationships with each person makes all the work worthwhile. At the end of the day, it is quiet at the nursery and I can walk, watch the bluebirds and enjoy seeing the fruits of all our labor.

Campbell Road Nursery
2804 Campbell Road, Raleigh
(919) 854-9892

1 Comment

  • Donna says:


    Someone suggested that I contact you. I’m looking for a Red Bud Tree. I tried to grow this tree several years ago and the poor tree just didn’t make it.

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