SUTTONS BAY — Start small and grow from there.
Bret and Sonja Richards founded Harbor View Nursery on Old Mission Peninsula in 1993. The first crop of plants the Richards grew themselves were sold on the farm three years later.
In 2010, the Richards added lavender to the 12-acre farm in what would become Harbor View Lavender Farm & Nursery.
“We started small with planting half an acre,” Sonja Richards said. “People thought it was cool and we just kept adding. We’re now up to five acres now and adding more this spring.”
In May 2018, the Richards bought the closed Cherry Stop and added it the business. Now Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm/Cherry Stop have opened a location outside of Grand Traverse County.
Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm/Cherry Stop opened May 1 in Suttons Bay at 405 N. St. Joseph St. A grand opening for the store, the former site of At Home, is planned for May 22.
“We’ve talked for a long time about putting a spot there or in Elk Rapids or Charlevoix, just expand it out,” Sonja Richards said.
A conversation with colleague Lori Buchan of Buchan’s Blueberry Hill on Old Mission Peninsula made the Richards aware of available space in the same building where Scoops 22 ice cream store opened in 2018.
“We thought, ‘Well, that seems like an opportunity,’” said Sonja Richards, who signed a lease a week later.
“I told them it was available and I knew they were looking,” said Buchan, who will offer a free ice cream cone at Scoops 22 with a Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm/Cherry Stop purchase on May 22.
The new store in Suttons Bay — complete with lavender shutters and trim — should be a perfect way to display the goods the Richards have for sale. The new Leelanau County store is open from Thursday through Sunday until Memorial Day weekend before transitioning to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily hours.
“It’s kind of a neat store,” Richards said. “It’s real big. It’s kind of divided up into rooms. The first room you walk into is lavender and the next room is all cherries.”
Employee Amy Spitzley, to continue the cherry theme, painted a mural in the hallway between the new store and Scoops 22.
“When you walk in, it looks like you’re walking into an orchard,” Richards said.
Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm/Cherry Stop will continue to operate its downtown Traverse City store at 121 E. Front St., Suite 103. Inside Front Row Centre, the store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm at 17770 Center Road on Old Mission Peninsula is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April through October.
While the Richards were opening the Suttons Bay store, they also were moving out of the 1420 W. South Airport location they launched in April 2019. The focus of the South Airport store was for its commercial kitchen, something the Richards require to sell the jams and jellies they produce online.
With that building up for sale, the Richards decided to relocate during its traditional slower season, even though the new Suttons Bay store made it a moot point.
“In January and February there was a lot of construction and painting going on; a lot of heavy lifting,” Sonja Richards said.
Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm/Cherry Stop will open a retail/commercial kitchen location at 1027 E. Eighth St. on Memorial Day weekend.
“I think Eighth Street will be a little better location for retail,” Sonja Richards said. “It will be a small (store) front. We’ll be open a couple of days a week when the girls are in there making product.
“I see that more as a convenience for our local customers.”
Just like Bret and Sonja Richards found out about the opening in Suttons Bay, the couple acquired Cherry Stop under similar circumstances. Cherry Stop was founded in 1995 and operated in a couple of different locations downtown under a couple of different names.
Nick and Jamie Roster closed Cherry Stop’s retail location in 2014, but were still making products for sale. Some of those products were for Harbor View Nursery & Lavender Farm and when the Rosters said they were looking to get out of the business, they sold it to the Richards.
The Richards said they have about five full-time employees for its retail locations and are looking to add at least one more.