Pollards open flower shop at Chester Hardware

Julie Pollard with a wall hanging by Chester artist Linda Diak. All photos by Cynthia Prairie

By Cynthia Prairie
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Come Saturday, Aug. 17, the almost yearlong absence of a flower shop in the town of Chester will come to an end, thanks to a simple question from the owner of Chester Hardware.

It was October of 2018 when the long-time owners of Chester Flowers and Village Children Shop on Main Street finally closed their doors. After 33 years, it was time to retire, to spend more time with family. Diane Stocker and her husband Rich moved to South Carolina to be near children and grandchildren and Cheryl LeClair set about spending more time here with hers.

Julie Pollard, who with her husband Bob own Chester Hardware on Main Street, has been a member of the Chester Economic Development Commission for a number of years and pays close attention to business vacancy rates. (In small town Chester, flower shops, like bookstores and a local grocery, have been a mainstay among merchants.)

Jars sit on a shelf waiting for flowers

So it was only natural for her to call up LeClair to discuss possibilities for “matchmaking,” finding a new owner and/or location for a flower shop.

“We were talking about all the empty spaces in town and I wanted to know where a flower shop would best fit,” Pollard said. “And Cheryl said it would best fit right here,” in the hardware store.

A collection of books graces a table in the flower shop.

“I have this thing about shopping local, providing (products that) people want,” says Pollard. And obviously, flowers and houseplants would certainly fill a need, but not without a bit of renovation to the hardware store and some lessons from LeClair and others.

Pollard calls the decision “a collaboration among the three,” LeClair and the Pollards.

With no floral experience, the Pollards began planning the 16 by 20 annex to hold the flower shop, tucked at the east end of the store. A large picture window overlooks the Grafton Road and a stunning floral wall-hanging by Chester fiber artist Linda Diak graces the opposite wall. Soft gold-tone pendant lamps add a quieting mood, away from the bright lights of the main store.

Venturing into the unknown is nothing new for Pollard, who bought Chester Hardware in 2000, making a drastic move from a big southern city of Fort Worth, Texas, to this small New England village. She was hoping to combine her home remodeling and sales background with her love of skiing.

Linda Diak’s wall-hanging in tryptic. Photoshop by Cynthia Prairie.

“I wanted something in the mountains. However, I was under the impression that I could put a sign on the door and go skiing,” she laughs. That, she admits with a smile, is not what has happens when you own your own business. At the time of the purchase, Bob Pollard was managing Chester Hardware for the previous owner. “Bob,” Julie says, “came with the store.” The two married 10 years ago.

Pollard admits to having no floral experience and expects to continue to seek out LeClair for advice as well as a small staff of part-timers. “I wasn’t prepared” for all the steps that it takes to care for cut flowers once they get delivered, she said, adding that she has many people “I can call on who are interested” in helping.

A collection of vases awaits flowers.

What will you be able to buy at the new flower shop? First of all, while the Pollards won’t be selling balloons, there will be cut flowers, house plants and pre-made arrangements that you can grab and go. And you’ll be able to order corsages and custom arrangements. They will be delivering to the Chester-Andover-Grafton area.

“Since this is going to be a small shop, let us know what you want,” Pollard said, adding, “we’re going to ask for everyone’s patience.”

“My concern is May. It’s our busiest month (in the hardware store) and then there is Mother’s Day and graduation (for flowers),” but Pollard added, “I expect we’ll all be up to speed by then.”

The Grand Opening is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday with raffles for flower arrangements and special sales on flowers.

The shop’s regular hours will be the hardware store hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

The shop can be reached through the hardware store’s line at 875-2693. Also, if you call the former Chester Flowers’ number – -875-4008 — it will ring at the hardware store.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Business & Personal FinanceChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.