WHEELING- A local garden center's relocation means new shopping and socializing opportunities for the community.
P.J. Lenz and his wife, Nikki, who operate Nicky's Garden Center, are continuing work on the business' relocation from 191 Bethany Pike to 476 Wardens Run Road. Although progress is moving more slowly than expected, there have not been any issues thus far. The relocated garden center is expected to open next winter.
Last October, when Lenz saw the former Hillwood Dairy house was for sale, he asked his wife, "Do we really want to do this now?"
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky
P.J. Lenz, co-owner of Nicky’s Garden Center, imagines the side of the former Hillwood Dairy house to serve as the future main entrance for customers.
They wanted to purchase the house 12 years ago, but due to the property remaining in the Lasch family for many years, the owners at the time were unwilling to sell. Now that they have the house and property, the Lenz family can envision new opportunities for Nicky's.
More than anything, Lenz hopes the relocated garden center will serve as a destination location.
"It should be a place to come and feel comfortable," Lenz said. "When people leave, they should feel good."
For Lenz, owning the property means more than commercial success. It is a way to give back to the community.
"People always told us they wanted to live in this house," Lenz explained. "Now it will be open for everyone to see."
With the hillside property leveled, underground utilities in place, groundwork for the greenhouse laid and the barn restructured, Nicky's is closer to realizing the business' expanded features. Such features will include, for the interior, a coffee shop that serves pastries, a kitchen, gift shops, a conference room to host events and an attic redesigned for the Lenz family's use. In their renovations, the co-owners are determined to maintain the original integrity of the house, built in 1884.
The garden center will also offer locally-grown produce.
Outside, a pond and fire pit will serve as community gathering areas. During winter, Lenz hopes families will enjoy the atmosphere with hot chocolate and marshmallows.
To spread news of the relocation, the Lenzes rely on the loyalty of their current customers. Because he claims that theirs is "not a drive-by business," Lenz noted postcards and word-of-mouth have been the main methods of promotion.
With the exterior of the house expected to be completed by spring, Lenz looks forward to what the future holds.
"By the grace of God we get by," Lenz said. "We offer our service to the community and enjoy doing so."