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Ohio-based nursery plants its second location on 5th Street Hill

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- For 18 years, Debbie and Jay Hatcher have been running Hatcher's Greenhouse on County Road 1 in Burlington, Ohio. And as the years have passed, the business has built a reputation as an oasis of greenery and a destination for people who enjoy milling through the nine greenhouses or bringing their kids to see the orange trees, miniature horses and dogs.

This year, the Hatchers brought their green thumbs to Huntington and opened Hatcher's On the Hill. Located in the space formerly occupied by Lavalette Nursery, the business seemed like a good fit to fill the void left by Mark Springer and his team, who went back to their roots of doing just landscaping and moved to Lavalette.

"Mark's passion is landscaping, and our passion is growing and retail. It's a win-win," Debbie Hatcher said.

Hatcher's On the Hill is located at 1601 5th Street Road and, after some months getting going, had its grand opening last weekend. It was an opportunity to show off the holiday offerings there, which include fresh-cut trees, wreaths and greenery, as well as ornaments and Christmas decor -- indoor and outdoor. Hatcher's also flocks trees to give them a snow-covered look. It also sells annuals, vegetables, shrubbery, roses and "almost all your garden needs," Debbie Hatcher said.

Debbie Hatcher is thrilled about the new location, set against an old quarry on the hill.

"There's a lot of character to this space. It has a charm about it," she said, adding that it's a legend that Jesse James spent the night in a cavern out back of the property after robbing a bank in Huntington.

The Hatchers have a vision for the property and will gradually be working toward making their vision a reality. That includes getting a truckload of vintage bricks, dated 1901, from Illinois last week. They had been used to line streets there and will be used to pave the parking area at Hatchers. The paving will tie in nicely with the brick streets along the Southside, Debbie Hatcher said.

Hatcher's On the Hill "is still a work in progress," she said. "It's not at its potential, but I think it's pretty enough for people to come see it now -- it's like a winter wonderland."

Hatcher's is solely a retail outlet. It will offer advice to homeowners, but does not do landscaping.

"Most of the do-it-yourselfers, we advise them and help them with placement, but we don't do installation," she said.

Their store goes back long before they purchased their Burlington property in 1994. In prior years, the Hatchers had been running a landscaping business, but they decided they wanted to go into retail.

They lost their first bid on the property, but were able to acquire it a year later.

"We got the call (that we could buy it) on our anniversary," Debbie Hatcher said. "We took that as a sign."

Then they got to work, "and we built it up," she said, adding that both of their kids, Christopher and Samantha Hatcher, "worked along with us."

Both kids worked their way through college by putting weekend and summer hours into the family business, Debbie said. Both graduates of Ohio State, Christopher now works for Marathon and Samantha is a nurse in Columbus, Ohio.

It's been a rewarding business, Debbie Hatcher said. She's enjoyed watching customers bring in their kids over the years and has seen many of them grow into adults themselves. She savors the comments she gets from people who really just like the atmosphere, describing it as a "breath of heaven."

"We've gotten a lot of good response to this," she said, referring to the new Huntington location. "People come in once a week for a fix -- because it's pretty and the flowers don't talk back to you."

Patricia Lutz Lee, a Huntington pediatrician, has been a loyal customer since the beginning -- buying annuals, perennials, bushes, trees and all garden needs at Hatcher's in Ohio.

Hatcher's helped her family pick out the right plants when they built and landscaped their home, and it's simply a beautiful place to visit, both in Ohio and the new Huntington location, she said. Over the years, her kids have enjoyed going to the Burlington location to feed the fish and pet the animals.

Lee thinks Hatcher's has "the biggest variety of plants, and they're always healthy," she said. "The people who work there are loyal employees as well and know what they're talking about. You can tell them where you want to put something, whether it's shade or sun, and they can tell you what would be good in that area. Always helpful, always happy, always pleasant."

Plus, Jay and Debbie are wonderful people, she said.

Lee's whole family shops there, she said. Even a brother who lives in Danville, Ky., gets his planters there for spring and summer.

Going to Hatcher's is "one of my favorite things to do, whether spring or fall," Lee said, adding she loves what Hatcher's has done in their new Huntington location. "The stuff they've put in there for the Christmas season is beautiful," she said.

While the Burlington greenhouse annually closes for the winter in November, Hatcher's On the Hill will remain open through December and be closed in January and February only.

"(During those two months), we grow our flowers and are very busy," Debbie Hatcher said. "We're like the flower elves getting Hatcher's workshop ready for the spring."