COVENTRY — At the former site of a beloved local garden center, a new family-run business has planted roots.
Fairview Gardens on Friday officially opened its doors at 429 Fairview Avenue, where, until last year, Budzie’s Nursery had been selling homegrown flowers and veggies since 1961.
After 60 growing seasons at the location, Budzie’s left Coventry in the fall to consolidate operations to its farm in New York. Hundreds of comments on a Facebook post announcing that decision depict fond memories of exploring the greenhouses and browsing for pumpkins and holiday greenery at what one person called a “Coventry landmark.”
While there are certainly similarities between Budzie’s and the new nursery and garden center, Fairview Garden will no doubt create its own legacy within the town.
“We’re going to do what people expect from a greenhouse — your tomatoes, your peppers, your flowering plants — but we’re putting a twist on it,” said Michelle MacInnis, who owns Fairview Gardens with her boyfriend James Eddy.
Growing and selling vegetables, flowers and other garden goods is only part of what the Coventry residents have planned for their fledgling business.
A gift shop, for example, offers an assortment of items, the majority made in the U.S.A. Shoppers will find products like birdhouses, flowerpots, succulents, toys and just about everything one might need to build a fairy garden.
A 17-year-old Coventry girl hand-makes earrings for the shop; a 16-year-old girl from West Warwick will sell her candles there.
The gift shop also offers several do-it-yourself project opportunities. Patrons can make their own hand soap and cleaning supplies, for instance, and MacInnis plans to offer a free weekly craft for kids.
There’s a classroom set up, as well, where MacInnis and Eddy will host all kinds of events, like paint nights, sustainable living and hydroponics classes, and various chef-led demonstrations.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, MacInnis, who has a background in property management, had planned to open a micro office that would double as a venue for after-work and social events.
“My idea was the exact opposite of social distancing,” she said.
She had already done a lot of research into the idea, though, and she’d really been looking forward to bringing it to fruition. So when she and Eddy made the decision to open a garden center on the property her brother had recently purchased, she figured why not tie the two ideas together?
“I thought, let’s give it a whirl,” MacInnis said.
The classes and events will also make it easier to keep the business open year-round, she added.
The plan, she said, is to keep Fairview Gardens open through the holidays — in the fall, visitors can pick pumpkins and make scarecrows and partake in other seasonal crafts; at Christmastime they can buy trees, decorate ornaments and maybe even get a photo taken with Santa Claus. After likely taking a short break in January, MacInnis said, the center will reopen its gift shop and begin hosting more classroom events.
In addition to all of that, patrons can bring products to Fairview Gardens to be engraved. Laptops or iPhones, for example, can be engraved on site with personalized logos.
MacInnis, who’s a notary public, is also offering notary service to anyone who needs it.
“We’re doing a little bit of everything,” she said.
As for its plants, Fairview Gardens currently has a number of springtime favorites available for purchase — colorful tulips and daisies and lilies and hydrangeas. A lot of those flowers came from elsewhere, and Fairview’s own plants should be ready to sell within a couple of weeks.
Fairview Gardens is currently open Thursday through Monday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 429 Fairview Ave., Coventry. For more information, visit fairviewgardensri.com.