Some days, it's good to just get up in the mountains. Marlea, Michelle, Lucia and I did just that last week with a short day trip over the hill into Nevada City. I have been wanting to take them to some of my favorite stores over there for quite a while, and it it all seemed to fall into place thanks to Kimmie & Jaime holding down the fort for the day at the nursery.
We set out at 6am, we are bright and early kinda gals, and first stop was an hour and a half away in Truckee for some hearty breakfast at the original Squeeze In. If you have never been there, give it a try sometime. The only hard part is narrowing down your choice from the 80 or so omelets that they offer. After fortification, we headed over to Villager Nursery to see if they were open yet. http://www.villagernursery.com/ . I had met two of the owners, Eric & Rob, of Villager while at the FarWest Nursery show in Portland my first summer in the business back in 2001. Eric has continued to be a mentor and wealth of information whenever needed. I love their place!!! It is set into the side of a large hill, and as you climb your way up through the nursery from the parking lot you encounter so many beautiful and exciting specimens of plants. Of course many of these plants would have a very tough time making it in our dry - hot -alkaline climate, but it is still fun to look. The morning was very cool, and the dew was still on the leaves as we toured through the trees and shrubs. We all picked out a few things that just had to go home with us, and Eric suggested we place them inside his front gate in a shaded area and pick them up on our way home. Even though it was very cool at that moment, the heat in the car during our day out would cook them. After a quick goodbye and a promise to catch up at this coming FarWest show in Portland in August, we were on our way.
Our next stop was in Nevada City at a relatively new garden center called The Prospector. This one is also tucked into the side of a hill, but is located directly off the busy freeway. Our Kelloggs/Dr. Earth sales rep, Mike McLain had told me about this store a couple years ago and Robert and I had stopped on one of our trips to Nevada City. It was amazing to me how much more developed the property had become in such a short time. We wandered around for the better part of an hour looking at their gorgeous displays and comparing plants again, but knowing that we weren't going back home on the same highway, we had to keep our purchases to items in the gift shop instead. We chatted with the owners for a bit about Christmas promotions, as they were in the process of unwrapping and tagging ornaments that had just come in. If the situation arises, we usually like to mention that we are also in the business when we are in a gift store or nursery. Part of the purpose, and fun, of these day trips is picking up new products and companies to buy from that we think might be a good fit for our store also. It makes the owner feel a whole lot more comfortable when they know you live a couple hundred or thousand (as was the case when we were all in Atlanta) miles away. We usually always end up in some sort of "brain storming" session with them as well. They will ask us what works for us, what new companies we have found, what our store is like and what does the best for us. I can't ever remember in all the years of doing these little trips having a business owner upset that we are checking out their store for new ideas and products. Usually it is just the opposite, they love to talk to you about their business decisions and purchases, and they love to hear how you have solved a particular problem, or made an extra creative display. Over the years I have picked up quite a few "email pen pals" from different stores in New York, Atlanta and San Francisco. I love this information highway that helps us all be better store keepers.
Next Stop: downtown .......Nevada City