FONDA – The Garden Bug started more than 20 years ago by selling a few pumpkins on the front lawn, with a dream of making enough money to send the family to Disney World. A few years later, owner Charlene Brown found herself expanding by cleaning out a section of her 100-year old dairy barn.
Char started making some homemade wreaths, seasonal bows and few centerpieces. The first year of operation, The Garden Bug was just a one-room gift shop, with a dirt floor, no lights and a big open barn door. Fast forward to today and The Garden Bug is a fully renovated four-room gift shop and an 80×40 retail greenhouse, with three other growing houses.
The Garden Bug has been selected as Montgomery County’s June Small Business of the Month by County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort and the Montgomery County Business Development Center because of its commitment to excellence and quality homemade products.
“The Garden Bug is the type of shop that is quintessential Montgomery County,” County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said. “Charlene has created a store that feels like home and makes you feel good when you are shopping there. They have something for everybody — you will never leave empty-handed. If you haven’t been, I suggest making a trip to The Garden Bug.”
The Garden Bug is closed for the summer, but will with an extraordinary selection of seasonal decorations and décor, kicking off with their Fall Open House, on August 20. The summer is spent planting more than 3,500 fall plants like mums, millet, kale and containers of fall flowers. The gift shop is transformed into fall festive as well. Custom wreaths are always a hit, as well as their custom decorative ladders. In the fall, The Garden Bug offers pumpkins, mums, gourds, cornstalks and much more.
“Growing up on a daily farm in Montgomery County made me realize that I never wanted to leave the area,” Char said. “At The Garden Bug, you will notice just how beautiful this area really is — an amazing view of the valley, some of the best sunsets and the fresh country air is something everyone can enjoy while visiting us.”
Within a few years of opening, The Garden Bug was expanding, with the renovation of another room in the barn and working on more rooms throughout the years. When you visit The Garden Bug, customers notice the old cow stanchions sill located in the same spot they were before the renovations. Eventually, the first small greenhouse went up and that’s where the retail flowers and vegetables are sold.
“I would like to thank my family, as well as everyone in Montgomery County and the surrounding areas, and even the out-of-state visitors, for all of the continued support throughout the years,” Char said. “Being a small business owner, it is amazing to look back and see just how far our little road side pumpkin stand has evolved!”
The Garden Bug is now open seasonally throughout the year. In early March, more than 15,000 spring flowers are planted in the greenhouses and special orders are rolling in from many customers. The greenhouses are decorated with many outdoor decorations like fountains, sun globes, wind chimes and one-of-a-kind flower containers. The winter months are spent making custom wreaths, centerpieces, decorated indoor ladders and more. The gift shop is transformed into a spring paradise. The gift shop offers many every day and spring items, linens, pictures, furniture pieces, candles, garlands and more.
Their Christmas Open House is hosted in November. It truly is a winter wonderland experience, with everything someone needs to get their home in the holiday spirit. Again, customized seasonal wreaths, centerpieces, pencils trees, linens, winter pictures, candles, garlands and more. In our retail greenhouse, we have customized hanging baskets filled with winter pines, fresh wreaths and sap buckets with pines.
“The Garden Bug is a great small business, with new products and selection for each season and time of year,” Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose said. “They are one of a growing number of agritourism type businesses located in the county. These types of businesses are prospering and continuing to grow and expand, as people continue to frequent them and realize the quality of products that are offered.”
The Garden Bug is located at 844 Ft. Hunter Road, in Amsterdam. They can be reached at (518) 829-7024. You can also find The Garden Bug Country & Primitive Gift Shop Greenhouses & more on Facebook and Instagram, as they provide updates on seasonal hours and opening dates.
The small business of the month initiative recognizes local Montgomery County businesses that are making a difference in the community. Anyone wishing to nominate a deserving small business for recognition next month should contact the Montgomery County Business Development Center at 518-853-8334 or email email@example.com with a brief note about the positive impact the company is making on the community. Nominations can also be submitted by sharing a post and tagging the business on the Business Development Center’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.