PEPPERELL — Like the perennials it sells, Nashoba Valley Garden Center & Country Market on Route 119 has sprouted to greet spring sunshine and has introduced a fresh new addition to the store in keeping with trends in the gardening business.
A new portico and a set of double French doors now sit beside a bubbling, waterfall-fed fish pool to usher customers into a renovated, high-beamed country market stocked with local New England products that owners Louise and Bruce Taylor uncovered during the winter.
With the help of garden business consultant Judy Sharpton of Savannah, Ga., changes have also been made to the garden business. One greenhouse has been removed and the selection of annuals has been moved to a new paved area beside the shop. The former check out desk is being enclosed to form a potting shed.
“Customers can pot their purchases on the property to take home then leave the mess to us,” Bruce Taylor said.
A new perennial bed designed by Lorraine Post of Pepperell was added last year. The Taylors have begun working with Denise Pavlovich from Covered Bridge Perennials of Pepperell, a member and judge for the American Daylily Society and local growers to offer unusual varieties. Lilies and hostas are grown on the property.
The country market is just inside the building.
“It is in keeping with our philosophy of Support Local and customer first,” Louise said. “There’s no better way to help support the community. Locally owned businesses return about 80 cents of every dollar of revenue back, and each dollar returns up to five times the amount through taxes.”
She said that “big box” stores like Walmart and Home Depot by comparison return only 20 to 40 cents per dollar back to their resident communities.
“They just don’t have community roots. We do and we believe in that,” she said.
Some of the market’s offerings are Stillman’s milk, Smith Country cheeses, Chilly Cow ice cream, and Capone pasta, all from Massachusetts. Parker’s maple syrup and pancake mix comes from just over the border from Mason, N.H., and Wicked Joe’s coffee, Eli’s soda and Shaine’s ice cream come from Maine. And they still grow “quality” annuals and perennials, Louise said.
Coming soon will be Nashoba Brook Bakery breads from Concord, pre-made foods and fresh vegetables from Gilson Lyseum of Groton, and the Taylors will be working with local farmers to sell fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Renovation supplies were purchased locally and both contractor Jeff Chabot of Jeff and Sons and manager Nancy Gardner is a lifelong Pepperell resident.
“We’re a small family run business, not a big commercial garden center, and that’s the way we want to keep it,” Louise said.
When her father, Ted, died in 2001, Louise quit her job in the high-tech industry to take over Nashoba Garden Center. Bruce kept his heavy equipment operator job until they could work the business together.
“It was scary. We wondered if we could work together day and night and if the business could support us,” Louise said. “My parents worked together in (the former) Tack Shop here and if they could do it, so could we.”
Bruce took over transporting bulk materials such as mulch and stone. Larger trucks were needed to deliver larger quantities of 25 yards or more that were requested. Now they deliver to homeowners anything from one to 100 yards of material.
It was the presence of the large dump trucks that caused neighbors from Sherwood Forest to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals to halt the trucking in a hard-fought process that made news headlines over a two year period. The board upheld the Taylor’s non-conforming use of their land.
Louise said that some abutters have since apologized. The trucks are hidden from view by a large natural birm and are barely visible even from the garden center.
“The town did what is had to do to follow the law. We feel it supported us as a local business,” she said.
“We’ve set very high standards for all products we offer. If they are not met, the offerings go back to the vendor,” Louise said. “We want quality products at a reasonable price.”
Louise ticked off a list of local folks who helped them renovate. It includes Jeff Chabot for the “beautiful” renovations, Matt from Northeast Electric, Bill from McBride Plumbing, Jack from Bobcat Services, Frank from Franco Excavating Inc., Jeff from Sites & Signs, Linda and John from Townsend Floors, John Bradbury and John Stefan for refinishing floors, Della from Jasonics Security of Harvard, Larry from Dow Painting, Jim from Harboryard Improvements, Steve Sugar and Debbie Woolacott from North Middlesex Savings Bank and town inspectors who helped things move quickly.
“We want to thank our customers for continuing support and Pepperell for supporting our business and all the small businesses in the local area,” Louise said.