Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Viral news proves a mixed bag for Great Outdoors

Tom Tinguely, owner of the Great Outdoors nursery on South Congress, wants everyone to know that he is working through issues with the city’s Development Services and Code departments and that the business is fully operational.

That’s important, because when the Dawson Neighborhood Organization tried to call attention to problems that the Great Outdoors was having with the city, that led some people to think that the nursery was going out of business. Nothing could be further from the truth, Tinguely says.

However, viral publication of the story has been bad for business. Tinguely wants everyone to know that city reviewers are working with the Great Outdoors, and he fully expects to get the appropriate city paperwork without having to make too many changes to the business.

Tinguely posted on his Facebook page Monday, “Now the reviewers at the City are willing to work with the Great Outdoors to solve our issues with the least amount of changes and once implemented, we will finally get the (certificate of occupancy) for the existing house (for which we had been approved to change the use, but for which the paperwork was not completed in 1994). Once done we will be fully compliant.”

Tinguely was especially concerned because spring is the busiest season for nurseries and he has been getting a lot of phone calls from people asking if they were still operational. Mother’s Day wasn’t a happy one for Tinguely, because although it’s a traditionally good day for nurseries, traffic at the South Congress nursery was down.

So, all the publicity the business got from the Dawson Neighborhood Organization as well as local media probably helped persuade city officials to take a step back from their original demands for changes to the business. But on the other hand, the unintended consequence of the publicity has been a loss of business for the Great Outdoors.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin Code: Formerly known as Code Compliance, this is the city department that handles enforcement of city code violations. Its work is complaint-driven.

Congress Avenue: Congress Avenue is the central-most road in downtown Austin. It runs from the Texas State Capitol to Lady Bird Lake, where it turns into South Congress Avenue. It is also a historic district first listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

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