White Linen and Lalique de Lalique are lovely fragrances, but to me, the headiest scent of all is the one that permeated my dad’s hardware store: Scotts lawn fertilizer.
This isn’t just any place to pick up lawn fertilizer. This is Orlando McLean Scott’s original hardware store.
After being discharged from the Union Army in the Civil War, Scott opened a hardware store in Marysville in 1868. He specialized in selling 99.9 percent weed-free seed to farmers, helping them achieve clean, weed-free fields.
By 1907, Scott and his sons had expanded the business, selling grass seed by mail to customers who wanted better lawns. Soon, Scotts products were available at retail locations. As the years passed, Scotts introduced Turf Builder, a fertilizer specifically designed to meet the special nutritional needs of grass. It offered a spreader for even, accurate application of fertilizer, essential for better results. It opened the first automated grass seed processing and packaging plant. The work of its turfgrass research division led to the development of Weed & Feed, the first selective weed control and fertilizer combination, and Halts, the first pre-emergent crabgrass control.
Recognizing the importance of know-how, Scotts began educating its customers about the art of creating a lush lawn. In 1928, the company started to publish Lawn Care magazine. That commitment to sharing good advice led to the establishment of the Scotts Training Institute in 1962. Scotts offered special training classes to help retailers and their employees better assist customers in selecting a program of Scotts products that were guaranteed to develop thick, green lawns.
My dad was one of those Scotts Training Institute students. As a teenager, he started working as a stockboy for the Cohagan Hardware Company, first located at 4000 East Brood Street and later at 3003 East Livingston Avenue in Columbus. He eventually owned the store, prescribing Scotts programs to his customers until he closed the store in 1985. Here he is in a circa-1961 photograph promoting Cohagan Hardware and its Scotts products.
That’s how I came to love the smell of lawn fertilizer, the feel of running my hands through barrels of grass seed, the sound of the key-cutting machine, the sight of a Quikrete pocket protector packed with pens and pencils, and the taste of Pepsi in chilled glass bottles from the store’s vintage vending machine.
So when we walked into Mr. Scott’s recently restored hardware store, it was like reliving our Cohagan days.
The store’s wooden floors and ornate ceiling provide the perfect backdrop for displays of historical Scotts items like spreaders and lawnmowers. Vintage packaging, employee group photos and Scotts advertisements are displayed throughout the store.
Product categories and eye-catching drawings handwritten on black chalkboard paint wall borders direct customers to product displays for weed control, lawn care, Gro-ables seed pods, bird seed and more. There’s even a selection of Scotts promotional merchandise to buy, from Scotts clothing and lanyards to stationery items and iPad covers.
The Scotts-Miracle Gro Company Store is located at 119 South Main Street in downtown Marysville. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8:00 to noon. Call 937-738-7238 for more information.
While in Marysville, drive by a big, dark brown home on the northwest corner of Maple and Fourth Streets. Owned by O.M. Scott & Sons Company from the 1950s to 1987, the Scott House was used as a guest house for visitors and a place to hold meetings, including some that my dad attended as part of the Scotts Training Institute. The home was built between 1910 and 1912 and is said to have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Here’s what it looked like last winter.