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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Garden Magic....

What is your definition of a garden??

For most people I think it would be neat and tidy rows of vegetables...which I appreciate...but that would not be my definition.

My gardens...are my happy place. They are where I can relax and refocus. They are magical...

There were times, this past Winter, when I wasn't sure we would ever see Spring!! When I would look out my window and see nothing but white...and cold....and yuck!! It was depressing, to say the least!! But....Spring has arrived...and it is even sweeter because of all of the "suffering"!!

When we bought our house...there were no gardens...actually, there wasn't anything!! I had a vision...I wanted an herb garden, and old-fashioned flowers. I wanted fruit trees and vegetables all mixed together with flowers...a "kitchen garden". I wanted something above and beyond the normal foundation plantings...and rows of vegetables!! I, also, wanted a bird and wildlife sanctuary (you should, sometimes, be careful what you wish for!!!) all of which....we now have!!

It's a lot of work....and people, often, ask me why we want to spend our "off" time....which is so rare to begin with...working!! The answer....basically...is that we love it!!

There is something really special about a garden....and it doesn't matter what "kind" you have!! Manicured lawns and perfectly pruned bushes...rows and rows of vegetables...containers on a balcony....plants on a windowsill!! All of them...give back!!

We have a tree...a really BIG tree...that I, along with my Grandmother, transplanted. She and I walked and walked in the woods, behind her house, and found a tulip poplar...about three feet tall. We planted it in the yard...and my Grandfather proceeded to back over it!! It survived...and is thriving!! I have lilac bushes, rose of sharon bushes, lily of the valley, feverfew, bee balm and evening primrose....all that she "shared" with me!!

Every time I see them....or, in the case of the lily of the valley and lilacs, smell them...she is right there, in the garden, with me!! When my youngest turned 5, we had a "garden party" birthday party. I took all of those 5 year old kids on a tour of the gardens...let them touch, and smell, the herbs..and showed them where the fairies and gnomes lived! Our gardens have hosted many, many picnics, prom pictures, a bridal shower, three garden tours...and, last Summer, my daughter's wedding. Like I said....magical!!

For some...Summer is all about vacations, sitting and relaxing, taking it easy!! For me....it's all about spending time in my yard...and enjoying what all of my hard work "gives back"...the sights, the smells, the produce, the birds...the sweet memories!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Customer service.....

There are so many things to think about when you decide to start a business. Type of business, location, hours of operation. Once you narrow all of that down...you have to think about what you are trying to do...for example...you decide to open an antique store...should it be "fine" antiques or cool, funky stuff. Should you do consignment or have all of the inventory be your responsibility. What image are you trying to project...what paint colors and window treatments best "fit" that image?? The list goes on and on...

Of course....from a business standpoint...I think the smart thing is to be original and set yourself apart but that comes with risks...will people like what you are doing?? Will the customers come?? Will all of the work...the worry...be worth it??

Well...in our case...yes!!

We will start our 20th year, this July....20!!! Hard to believe!! I look back on all of the decisions I had to make...and still have to make...and I wouldn't change anything!! Each and every step we have taken has made us who we are...and brought all of you into our lives!! Everyone knows that customer service is important, but customer relationships are a part of the business that, kind of, takes you by surprise!! And...to be honest...it's really the best part of owning a small business!!

In this day and age of EVERYTHING being online...from bill paying to house hunting...from watching movies to making purchases...to "meeting" people?!?...relationships (real ones) are more valuable than ever! We are not just a click away...the Sweet Memories experience is one that we work VERY hard to make...and keep...tactile. I communicate with you here...on my blog...and (try anyway..) to stay on top of Facebook!! It's fun...and it adds another element to the customer service experience. But it doesn't replace the real thing...thank goodness!!

We have watched couples become families, little ones grow up and many of you reach milestones. We have, essentially, become part of a HUGE family!! To be honest...we consider most of YOU to be "more family" than some people we are "related" to!!!! It's so nice to watch the relationships...and interaction...between our "regulars" and my daughters. The birthday cards and Christmas cards...what an amazing thing!! I cannot tell you how many of you are like their "other" parents and surrogate grandparents!!

While...on the one hand...it IS the best part of small business ownership...it can, also, be the hardest. We have lost quite a few wonderful people...and we had to say goodbye, this weekend, to one of the sweetest!!

Losing people is a part of life...and inevitable when your "family" is as big as ours!!

Customer service...sure, it's important...but, around here, making you part of our family is what we strive for....even when it's hard!!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Gardening Season"...a new Holiday!!!

Happy May!!!!

Is it time yet...huh...is it?? Is it time??

I have decided....especially with the Winter (and, frankly, the Spring?!?) we have had...that "gardening season" is an official Holiday!!

I have talked, before, about how much I love the Holidays...all of them...but, right now anyway, THIS one is my favorite!!

We took a "Me Day", on Monday, and poked around a few new (for us) garden centers and antique stores. I found some terrific inspiration...and I am even more excited to get this season rolling than I was before!! Our "plant out" date cannot come fast enough for me!!

Just a reminder....for all of you who share this "passion" (get it?? hahahaha.....) with me....make sure you come in and check out the shops at Sweet Memories FIRST....because we have all kinds of garden-y treasures for inside AND out!! Garden markers (all kinds!!!) wonderful stuff for that fairy garden, hummingbird feeders, birdhouses, cast iron critters, gnomes, rain gauges, mushrooms, oil lights....and so on and so on!!

When you are done shopping....and your arms are full of amazing finds...come and find me!! I would be more than happy to tell you which greenhouses, garden centers, antique shops (and even other "shop" shops) to visit!! These are the kinds of things we need to share...and I am more than happy to spread the gardening bug!!