Once surrounded by sod-growing fields and horse farms, Centennial, Colo., a suburb of Denver where Tagawa is located, is now a bustling city, which created both opportunities and challenges for Tagawa.

In 1978, the Tagawa family purchased greenhouses on a piece of land outside Denver, surrounded by horse farms and sod-growing fields. After blizzard damage in 1982, Tagawa Gardens added retail space — gradually phasing out commercial rose production greenhouses to focus on the garden center.

Since then, Denver’s suburbs have grown around Tagawa. Although the garden center is near a busy intersection now, it sits further back from the street, so it’s difficult to see.

“With all the development, we lost our visibility from the main streets,” says manager Beth Zwinak. “We’ve always been hard to get to and hard to find, so we’ve tried different ways to get people familiar with our name.”

Tagawa has always been involved in the community, which incorporated as The City of Centennial in 2001. The garden center gives back about 10 percent of its profits through product donations — including fundraisers for local non-profits, centerpieces for city events, and children’s planting activities.

Community involvement builds goodwill and name recognition for Tagawa Gardens. Now, the garden center is working with the city to increase visibility even more.

The Tagawa family worked with officials from city, county and highway departments to build a new driveway and entrance about four years ago. The new entrance even connects with a regional trail used by cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.

Left photo: Staff call the Tagawa Gardens management team the “Three Amigos.” From left: Jim Tagawa, Beth Zwinak and Chuck Hoover. Right photo: This grey cat is Tagawa Gardens’ mascot and used in several marketing and promotional items, even business cards.

Still, being zoned for agriculture, the garden center faced limitations on the size and location of its signage. Coordinating with city officials, Tagawa Gardens secured permits to install a new digital sign at the entrance near the street a few months ago. The city also named the access road leading back to the garden center and trailhead South Tagawa Lane. “The only other street in the city named for a business is IKEA,” Zwinak says, “so we felt pretty special.”

Although Tagawa wants to draw traffic from the 40,000 cars that drive by each day, the company doesn’t want long lines inside.

“We like to keep it flowing,” Zwinak says. “Since we’re maxed out on space for cash registers, we decided to go mobile.”

To facilitate smoother checkout, Tagawa Gardens added mobile cash registers this year that enable transactions anywhere, even off-site at fundraising events. Unlike similar mobile device systems that only process credit cards, this system syncs with the garden center’s point-of-sale software to link with live inventory, loyalty programs, and other features to make shopping as convenient as possible.