Well, at Sunnypoint Gardens and Gift Shop, LLC in Egg Harbor, you can find everything from A to Z, as in Asiatic lilies to zinnias. Vast arrays of blooms, all flourishing, greet the visitor with cascading color and subtle perfumes. Meticulously arranged and lovingly tended by two generations of gardening experts, the greenhouses (eleven) and the gift shop serve locals and people from across the country.
Today Kori and Anthony (Tony) Zawojski III own the business, which they purchased last year from Tony’s parents Judy and Anthony (Bud) Zawojski, Jr.
Sunnypoint is the oldest nursery in Door County and when it was offered for sale in 1973, Judy and Bud, who were undergoing the assaults of a dreary March in Chicago and who also had vacationed happily in Door County, and their four children uprooted themselves and undertook a new lifestyle.
The business grew and the kids helped out and the enterprise’s reputation was one of quality and friendly service. But right after their 25th anniversary, Judy recalls she was sitting in the sunroom of their recently remodeled house and thinking how wonderful it all was. That was just before the infamous tornado of August, 1998 sent 150 mph winds to level that home and the business. Everyone survived safely, even the family dog, who had refused to join the group in the basement and instead squirmed behind the washer and dryer and wagged happily to see his family coming back upstairs to the disaster that was left.
The word on the street (or perhaps in this case the road) was “They’re gone (the business), but the community had not reckoned with the determination and spunk of the family and Judy led the charge to get a greenhouse built by February in order to open in May of the following year.
Kori and Tony were married three weeks after the tornado hit and a few years later traveled to visit family in another state where they were advised by an uncle to buy the business. Eventually that happened, not before the couple did some earnest hands-on work and study. Tony kept his trucking business for several years before coming in full time and now is responsible for maintenance, watering, fertilizing, and meticulously monitoring the quality of the crop. Kori, who refers to it as wearing different hats, coordinates all the ordering of plants and gift merchandise, sets the growing and planting schedules each season, bookkeeping, and manages the retail operation. Of course everyone plants.
It’s a pleasure to see a family business where there is obvious respect and affection, and Kori says that whereas Judy always worked 24/7, since selling to Tony and Kori, she has cut back to working a mere 40 hours instead.
We also toured the greenhouses (big) and heard about the planting and other schedules that structure the business. You can’t see the greenhouses, which comprise 30,000 square feet, from the highway, but it helps one understand where the huge quantity of flowers originates. The women insist that quality control begins with DIY -- growing your own plants.
Kori goes on an annual buying trip in September to replenish unique gifts that include a treasury of pots and planters, birdhouses, hand painted chests, garden implements and more. Kori’s mother Barb, who lives in Wisconsin Rapids, has painted a stunning mural on the walls of the gift shop, in which an imposing leafy tree travels around a corner.
March starts the season as the family plants, working until dark and later, with the aid of some potting machinery, and begin to grow what won’t appear in public until months later.
An enormous selection of perennials is offered, along with the maxim for the years after planting: the flowers will (in year one) sleep, (in year two) creep, and (in year three) leap!
Looking back, Judy remembers her grandfather’s farm in Zion, Illinois where he and she shared a love of flowers. Kori, who grew up on a dairy farm, and later obtained a degree in advertising from Michigan State University (which has a terrific horticulture program, but then who knew?), recalls that her grandmother had a lovely garden. So these two, who appreciated flowers, but did not know them intimately, embarked on complicated educational journeys in the nursery business. Other family members include Tony’s brother Dave who, with wife Lynn, owns Sunnypoint Landscaping, LLC, just north of the Gardens. Kori and Tony’s son (Anthony IV) age 13, and daughter Natalie, age 8, contribute to family endeavors as well.
What’s different today? Well, everyone has a weather radio and next year a 40th anniversary is on the agenda. Otherwise, it’s the same great customer interaction and more and more flowers, possibly more beautiful each year. Take time to stop and smell the roses.
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6939 State Highway 42, Egg Harbor, 920-868-3646
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