What began as a seasonal business selling plants from tables outside the nearby produce store has evolved into a 20,000-square-foot year-round operation that visitors from as far away as New York frequent for all of their gardening supplies, plants, bird seed, home décor for all occasions and more.
When Fairless Hills Garden Center first set out in 1996, a 10x10 shed served as the center’s headquarters. Since then, founder Morris Steinberg, his wife Virginia, and their son, Gary, have relocated the outside yard and indoor garden shop to the former Pathmark building in the 10-acre shopping center.
“As it outgrew the space in front of the produce store, we moved it down to the end of the shopping center where it became its own entity,” Morris said. “It took off. We just kept adding more products and growing the product line depending on what people asked for.”
When the business increased its space in 2014 with the indoor store, they were able to carry many new products that need to be kept under roof such as birdseed, fertilizers, temperature-sensitive indoor plants and holiday decorations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Morris said the family business has certainly had its challenges but remained busy.
“We have sold more than a normal year,” he said. “It seems like people are doing more activities outdoors. Customers say it’s keeping them sane. A lot of people planted vegetable gardens for the first time this year or they are making their existing vegetable gardens even larger.”
Since Fairless Hills Garden Center sells outdoor goods like umbrellas, patio furniture, fire pits and swings with a canopy, it makes sense that the business would be busy as customers stayed home more often and looked at ways to spruce up their home base.
Families looking to spur kids’ love for learning have purchased the center’s new praying mantis cocoons and Ladybugs to watch as a science lesson literally comes to life. Some have used praying mantis to control spotted lanternfly populations.
“200 emerge from the cocoon,” he said. “They emerge hungry and they’re looking for bugs to eat.”
For novice gardeners looking to get started, Morris recommends starting out growing tomatoes, peppers, and flowering annuals in pots. He also suggests planting close to the house where plants can be watered easily, and weeds will be easier to monitor and control.
The garden center offers a huge selection for green thumbs and beginners alike. The first and busiest season is spring, which features 60 varieties of Proven Winner and bedding flat annuals, perennials, evergreen and flowering shrubs, vegetable and herb seedlings, fruit trees and berry bushes. In the fall, mums in more than 10 colors and four sizes are available, as well as 30 or more pumpkin and gourd varieties, locally grown cornstalks, and straw bales. Bird seed and bird feeders are popular throughout the year as well.
Beginning in late November, the center features cut greens, wreaths, poinsettias, mini evergreens, roping and Christmas trees. Winter storm supplies, wood fuel pellets and fireplace items are hot sellers in cold months.
Back when Steinberg got started several other local independent garden centers were open as well. As more box stores opened, smaller garden centers struggled to compete, eventually closing their doors. Fairless Hills Garden Center is an exception in that the business is “still flourishing.”
“We can give people better product and service than a chain store. We provide better pricing,” he said. “We always brought the customers good value. They appreciated they could get more for their money. They liked that they can just fill their shopping carts up and not have to wait for a sale.”
To learn more
Fairless Hills Garden Center is located at 620 Lincoln Highway. The indoor garden center is open year-round. Hours vary throughout the year. For the most part, the center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information, visit http://www.fhgardencenter.com/, call 215-428-2550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.