Thursday, April 1, 2010

Opening Day Q & A

Co-owners of Springridge Farm, John and Laura Hughes, are celebrating 50 years on the farm this season. Springridge features a fun farm yard, birthday parties, school tours, seasonal festivals, pick-your-own strawberries and a barn market with fresh produce, gourmet items and homemade baking. I sat down with Laura to chat about her savvy retail shop.

NIKI: Springridge is celebrating 50 years on the farm, how did your retail section begin?

LAURA: “Like so many other things on the farm, it started as a result of what customers were looking for. In the early 80’s we started to bring in a few bus tours from Toronto and many of the ladies were looking for something to buy. I listened to them and I got into small souvenirs around the $10 mark. When those sold, I tried some items worth $20 and $25 and it snowballed from there.”

NIKI: Are you personally excited about any new product lines, if so, which ones?

LAURA: “I’m very excited about the wall art and the paintings that we have. Art is something I’ve enjoyed all my life and that department has grown rapidly for us over the last few years. This year, we’ve introduced quite a few Canadian artists. They are wonderful prints, particularly those by the Group of Seven.”

NIKI: Do you think it’s important for Springridge to feature Canadian made products?

LAURA: “Yes, it has always been important for us to sell Canadian made products. This year we’ve searched at the Gift Show, the One of a Kind Show and the By Hand show. I’m particularly proud to say we’ve got several items that are made in Ontario like Hilborn Pottery, which has a very classic look to it.”

NIKI: What are the must-have items for garden-patio season?

LAURA: “If you’re setting up your garden and you come to Springridge, a must-have item is one of our garden statues. Many of our designs are classics like you would find in an English garden. We also have fun statues you might relate to like a dog or cat. They are beautifully made in Ontario and they will last outside all year round.”

NIKI: The Springridge Gift Loft features affordable jewelry, scarves and handbags. What trends are you seeing in this merchandise for spring?

LAURA: “A lot of designs are not too over the top. Crystal jewelry has always been popular for us. We offer some beautiful Swarovski Crystal pieces that are made right here in Toronto. The biggest trend in purses is the messenger style bag. Today, the busy lady can have a messenger style purse on at the mall, getting groceries, unloading children out of the car – it can just stay on comfortably. We’ve brought in messenger bags from great companies such as Lug, Espe and Quetzal. We also had fun with colour this spring!”

NIKI: In 2009 your family house was featured in the magazine Style at Home. What tips would you offer customers who are re-decorating their homes this year?

LAURA: “Keep the basics, like trim, fabric and furniture, in neutrals and have great fun accessorizing with colour. Use beautiful pots, bowls, trays, throws, and cushions to accessorize. If your basics are neutral you can change your decorating with the seasons.”

There’s one additional item that Laura’s looking forward to bringing home on opening day and that’s a strawberry rhubarb pie!

Springridge is now open daily, 9-5.