It’s hard to miss the Reynolds Garden Shop when traveling along East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. The property is lined with impressive flora, gorgeous landscaping and breathtaking design elements. Reynolds Garden Shop offers patrons a florist, full service nursery and garden center as well as residential and commercial landscape design and installation services.
With 10 full time family members working at Reynolds Garden Shop, owners Mark and Peg Reynolds know a thing or two about running a family business.
“From sales to retail management to accounting, there is a Reynolds family member in almost every field at Reynolds,” notes Peg.
Their son Luke manages landscaping while their daughter Katie runs the florist down the street. Their son-in-law, Tanek, specializes in lighting and sound design and installation. Their daughter-in-law Ashley has managed the garden shops since 2009. The business that now spans over two blocks and inhabits 3 buildings on East Bay Avenue started out over three decades ago in a much smaller capacity – it all began with a small roadside flower stand.
The vision for the shop bloomed out of Mark and Peg’s relationship with each other and their mutual love for the region. While Mark was born and raised in the area, Peg’s family had a summer home in Beach Haven West. They decided to make LBI their permanent home in 1971, which is how Peg and Mark first met while attending Southern together. Mark started working as a card dealer at Caesar’s while Peg worked as a medical assistant. Mark, however, could not stand being indoors and started cutting trees, which later turned into a small landscaping business. At the time, Peg’s parents, Bill and Dot Cullen owned a driving range at the Stafford Township Municipal Building. Bill and Dot allowed the young entrepreneurs to use a corner of the driving range property to set up that initial roadside flower stand.
From there the business continued to bloom until Mark and Peg bought the current location as well as the neighboring property. Roughly three years ago they bought another building down the street and turned it into a florist/clothing boutique which is run by their daughter Katie.
Despite the inherent challenges of running a business in a seasonal location, the shop stays busy in the winter.
“Every year, the business gets stronger and the break during the winter gets shorter due to the diversification,” says Peg. “The retail side of Reynolds is traveling for buying shows and rep meetings. The design side of Reynolds builds houses and sells landscape projects for the spring and summer season,” she continues. “The construction and landscaping divisions spend a lot of time designing their diverse range of projects during the entire winter. These schedules leave less time for a winter lull than other local firms. There is always a small enough lull in the winter for vacation time.”
The business is constantly growing and adapting to the changing landscape of the region. Noting on the shift from a family environment to being a more expensive area to live in, clientele now seem to have more money for major renovations and high end work. The business has also stayed very busy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, aiding in renovations across the region.
Some of the biggest challenges foreseen in the coming years are for the gift shops to stay afloat with online retail encroaching on brick and mortar stores. The business is facing this challenge head on by keeping up their own online presence and utilizing social media. The garden center itself, however, is meant to be experienced and Mark and Peg, along with their team, do their best to ensure there is something there for everyone. Noting that a garden center can’t be digitized, it is through offering such an inspiring and immersive experience that they are able to keep a loyal client base year-round.
“Our loyal clients are proud that we wear our hearts on our sleeve in all we do and those clients are what gives us hope for the next ten years,” says Peg.
Mark and Peggy truly value the experience of working with family, from the involvement of their parents from the very beginning to having raised their kids in the business. These days their grandchildren are welcome office visitors and Peg notes that before long they will be watering plants and working alongside the rest of the family.
“My kids are so busy, and it’s great that they work together so they are able to see one another,” says Peg. “There are challenges, but with family it is always worth working it out and seeing the bigger picture.”
The business will stay in the Reynolds family, eventually passing down to their daughter Katie and son Luke and their spouses, Tanek and Ashley. Peg mentions their other daughter Ashley might also come back and join the family business. Fortunately for the community, Reynolds Garden Shop is here to stay for generations to come.
Peg Reynolds was interviewed by John Dunlap, Southern Ocean Chamber Public Relations Intern, Syracuse University Class 2019. Interview edited by Adele McKenna for Volatile Media Management.