Recently, Blue Ribbon Nursery in Broadway held its 17th Annual Spring Open House. Despite the rain, they had a great turnout.
Owners Chad Comer and Joshua Shifflett make a great team. They have been working together since meeting while working at Costco years ago.
Chad is a familiar face in Broadway, where he lives. Josh is from Shenandoah.
Both had experience working with plants, doing some landscaping for Costco and on the side together.
“Without any financial backing, partners, or investors, we took a chance, bet on ourselves, and decided to do what we love, and because of you guys, we are still here!”
Josh and Chad purchased an old feed mill in the middle of Broadway, on Main Street, opening their landscaping and nursery business 17 years ago.
As Josh says, “We’re more than just plants! There is a whole other business inside!” They carry indoor and outdoor plants, of course, but have a wide variety of other items. From handmade wreaths, greeting cards, wind chimes, garden flags, exterior and interior décor of all kinds. Need a gift? – check out Blue Ribbon! Their seasonal items are wonderful. Items found range from lesser value to the more expensive. You can tell what season is coming by the giant blow-ups that Chad collects and displays outside.
The Nursery offers workshops- everything from wreathmaking to planting little succulent gardens or strawberry pots, and more. They started offering the workshops before Covid, and have recently started them up again, filling to capacity.
The sign out front along the road changes periodically, with funny sayings, like “we wet our plants!” and many more.
Recently the two added a new addition out back with patio seating and a peaceful view of the plants.
If you follow their Facebook page, Chad and Josh film their own videos, as professionally done as if they had hired someone to do it for them. Chad is the comic relief, with Josh the more serious one. Reminiscent of the old Smothers Brothers, their videos are always entertaining! What you see on the videos is how they really are together! There are giveaways, Hump Day specials and giveaways, announcements, and video reels walking you through the shop. You might catch Chad in a carrot costume, bunny outfit, or dressed as a giant leprechaun.
Josh said, “In the local area, we were one of the first who did the Facebook Live, one of the first businesses who did videos and reels, doing it ourselves. Other people pay production companies to come in and do it for them. We did it on our own, and they work!” Chad chimed in, “ We have a huge amount of people who come in saying we saw your videos! One said she told her husband we are going there, and they were an hour and a half away! We said really?! But we really do appreciate that they come in! There are diehard ladies’ groups that come from Lynchburg and Roanoke and Northern VA.”
Josh added “There is a group from South Carolina that comes every Thanksgiving and they go crazy in the Christmas shoppe!”
There are many people who live in Broadway, who may not be aware that they are “not just plants!” Outdoor plants are not for everybody, but Blue Ribbon is so much more.
Josh said, “Now we offer fresh produce, which is comparable to what you can buy other places.” Produce boxes are available for purchase, or you can stop in and choose your own fruits and veggies. There are some people who regularly come in just for the produce boxes alone.
You can find plant and herb packs that are as low and reasonably priced as ones you can find in the big box stores, and there are also high end trees and plants.
Ask for a Blue Ribbon Nursery Loyalty Card, punched for each time you purchase something. 4 punches= 25% off one item; 7 punches= $20 gift certificate; 10 punches= 50% off one item – one punch per day.
There is a ‘kitty work crew”, who have been adopted by the Nursery. Some of them were featured in a Chronicle article a while back, about Broadway office cats. The guys inherited some feral cats when they bought the mill. Those cats have passed on, and a new crew has been adopted and are living the life, greeting the customers, lounging in a sunny spot, or just overseeing the goings-on of each day!
Donna Gray has been working with Chad and Josh since they first started out. Bonnie Barlow comes from Stanley, where she owned her own florist, and has been working at Blue Ribbon since last fall. Some of the nursery’s top sellers are the custom wreaths and flower arrangements that Donna and Bonnie design.
“We still do full service landscaping, we have a huge clientele. We tell everyone to call us in the wintertime, to get on our schedule. A lot of times we take new customers, we have over 100 customers that we service each spring, and some in the fall.” Josh does the work, with the few helpers they may have. Chad used to go out on these jobs, but for the last 10 years, he has stayed at the store, running the retail area. Chad says “Now there is more to the business, running the retail, going to the produce auction twice a week, and bring it back, along with general day to day stuff.”
Blue Ribbon was the 2022 winner in the Gardening Store/ Nursery/ Landscaping category in Best of the Valley. They are in the running again. Votes are being tallied, winners will be announced June 1st.
Blue Ribbon Nursery and Landscaping is open 7 days a week, and has made a commitment to their clients to be the best 4 season nursery in the area.
If you haven’t been there, drop on by! Chad and Josh will welcome you with open arms!
192 South Main St, Broadway. See their ad here in the Chronicle for hours of operation.