2008-05-31 / Top News

Garden Store Unfurls with Colorful Flags

By Diane Ivey

Owner Ben Nye and employee Gina Travis play with some of the merchandise at the newly opened garden store, Flagship. An element of fun is necessary to any business, Mr. Nye said. The store sells wind chimes, garden gnomes, and glow-in-the-dark lawn decorations, among other goods. Owner Ben Nye and employee Gina Travis play with some of the merchandise at the newly opened garden store, Flagship. An element of fun is necessary to any business, Mr. Nye said. The store sells wind chimes, garden gnomes, and glow-in-the-dark lawn decorations, among other goods. As tulips finally open and buds slowly unfurl into leaves, another sign of a new season is the opening of a shop offering goods with bright colors and cheerful sounds for gardeners and nature-lovers.

Specializing in "goods for gardens and breezes," Flagship opened its doors in mid-May at 1511 Astor Street to welcome spring with wind chimes, lawn ornaments, and colorful garden flags.

Great Turtle Toys owner Ben Nye purchased the store, formerly known as "The Gift Horse," last year, but said he was not sure what to do with the property until he was inspired by the toy store.

"We had no space for garden things at Great Turtle Toys," Mr. Nye said. "But we love to fly our kites, and I'm always looking at weathervanes to know if the wind is good for flying. So I thought we could bring the garden goods here, and add other things I love to go with them."

Flagship, which operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the May- to-October season, is even designed to reflect the garden theme. The floor is made of smooth stone blocks that resemble a garden patio, the walls are painted green like moss, and the ceiling is sky blue. Adorning the walls are flags, sun catchers, and wind wheels.

"We're always playing the 'Planet Earth' documentaries on our TV," Mr. Nye said. "We want it to feel like your backyard, and to appeal to all the senses."

Employee Gina Travis said she especially likes the variety of glow-in-the-dark items, like the solar-powered glass mushrooms. The Mount Pleasant native also pointed out that the store has windsocks representing every country and nationality.

"I'd love to buy the Italy one for my mom," she said.

The most important thing is to provide customers with a quality product and shopping experience, Mr. Nye said, with the sophistication of Manhattan in the charming setting of Mackinac Island.

Flagship is sponsoring a contest to create a flag for Mackinac Island. The winner will receive a $500 prize for creating a design or crest that best represents the spirit of people and places on the Island. A percentage of the proceeds from flag sales will go to the Mackinac Island Community Foundation. The deadline for entries is October 31, 2008. Details about the contest are available in the store.

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