Oak Creek tree nursery firmly plants itself in diversity
Mega Discount Nursery, with its Frank Sinatra impersonator owner, expands to make ends meet
Oak Creek — Mega Discount Nursery, a traditional tree farm, has been known to branch out beyond its name, such as for its sales of organic food products as well as its role as a blossoming home for farm and rescue animals.
In fact, since its establishment at 1901 E. Rawson Ave., the nursery has acquired 163 fruit trees; a "misfit tree land" perfectly healthy, but not perfectly shaped, trees; a petting zoo with chickens, ducks and baby goats; a fishing lake with bass, bluegill, catfish and bullhead; and a rescue pitbull named Rex.
But live entertainment? Oddly enough, yes, thanks to its owner Russ Beaumont, a Frank Sinatra impersonator who sings classic oldies by request behind a stage in the store.
It's just one of the many surprises inside the tree farm, which is nearing 25 years in Oak Creek.
In between browsing the nursery's vast selection of 250 plant species, organic meat and eggs — which are raised fresh on the property — shoppers can hear "New York, New York" or "My Way" penetrate the sound system.
It's a pleasant surprise that can make patrons forget why they came to Mega Discount Nursery in the first place.
"I think people come in here just to hear him sing. People enjoy it," said Mike Beaumont, Russ' son who serves as general manager and operator. "Where could you come to a nursery and hear a Frank Sinatra impersonator, go to a petting zoo and get organic meats?"
Mike has booked Russ to sing for weddings, events and other occasions in Wisconsin, on cruise ships and even as far as Florida.
Russ has been singing Sinatra since he was a boy. He said his schoolteachers used to escort him to multiple classrooms to sing Sinatra while standing on top of a desk.
Mega Discount Nursery has hosted wedding receptions with Russ as the live entertainer.
Rooted in trees
The Beaumonts have diversified, but it all started with the trees.
In his early years, Russ, who had a farming background, would sell small evergreen trees in plastic pots to his New Berlin neighbors. Mike, who was 18 years old at the time, stretched his dad to think bigger. Truckloads bigger.
Without Russ's permission, Mike ordered a full semi-load of nursery stock and assured his dad that the trees would be sold by the weekend. They were, and the instant success prompted the Beaumounts to open a tree farm in Franklin on 27th Street in a former car dealership parking lot.
The Beaumonts grossed more than $1.3 million in three months in tree sales that year, said Mike. As their sales grew, the Beaumonts eventually bought 10 acres of land at their current Oak Creek location on Rawson Avenue, where they built their store and farm from the ground up.
But unexpected setbacks in sales have pushed the Beaumont's to challenge their business model once again. The tree farmers have begun selling organic meats and eggs to help offset dips in revenue, such as when this year's cold weather froze out customers from purchasing plants in spring.
"It's an unfortunate thing that we had to be here when it happened," said Russ of this year's extreme cold. "You can only hang on so long."
Mega Discount Nursery is technically for sale, but the operators have no interest in leaving if business improves. They're still brainstorming for the future. One idea is to build a barn for rescue animals with donations, in honor their dog Rex.
"It would be our pleasure to hang on here," said Russ.
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