If you’re planning a trip to Longwood, Winterthur or the Brandywine River Museum, be sure to add terrain at Styer’s to your itinerary.
I scoured the area for just about any paying position that could curl comfortably around my busy schedule at West Chester University. I tried to picture myself working in local groceries, restaurants and stores with a resounding lack of enthusiasm. There were numerous places that I knew would be fine and 0K – places where I guessed I could put in hours over the next few years as I finished my degree. Those reactions were shrugs at best, and I’m not one to settle for a weak slump of the shoulders. There had to be somewhere that I’d genuinely want to spend my time – somewhere that replaced that shrug with a smile.
Enter: me, 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, Chester County, eyes wide and a grin as big as the face of a sunflower. Those of you who haven’t been to terrain probably think I’m exaggerating. Those who have been there know that I’m not. Picture this: a nursery yard blooming with flowers and trees, constantly changing with the season, combining colors, sizes and species to create an earthy mosaic that feels both organic and elegantly stylized. Rustic buildings make up the retail store and garden café, vibrant flora occupying both high and low spaces under roofs pouring natural sunlight.
Your eyes leap from tinted glass candles flickering among the flowers to preserved tree branches wrapped with copper wire tea lights and settle on hand-painted kitchen ware and artfully stitched linens. You see light from above and around you, deep-green leaves and warm-pink petals. You smell candles of lavender and rose. You hear an acoustic guitar strumming some sleepy tune over the speakers. And, you know what you do then? You smile.
Did my GPS accidentally take me to some secret fairy village that I wasn’t aware of? I thought, fairies or not, I need to be a part of this. I asked an employee about this mystical site that I’d unknowingly passed many times and learned that J. Franklin Styer’s Nurseries has been one of America’s most respected names in gardening since 1890. It was originally a cut flower operation with a standing order for peonies at the White House. Today, Styer’s combines this historic groundwork with innovative perspectives and a creative eye for detail to deliver the most budding-edge in home and landscape design.
I realized quickly that what drew me to terrain was a concept that I’ve rarely seen executed with such skill and authenticity. It takes the idea of selling a given product – in its case, plants, home goods, food and services – and moves it to creating a memorable experience for shoppers and visitors. It’s not about coming in, snatching up a pot of peonies and making a mad dash for the nearest register; rather, it’s an outing that revolves around much more than consumption and goods. People come to terrain for the brand personality that they’ve fallen in love with – because, most importantly, it makes them happy to spend time there. It makes them smile. And, it makes them want to come back and do it all again.
Working at Terrain throughout my college career has also kept me connected to my roots in Lancaster because I often run into Lancastrians on our site. The first thing they say is the hour drive is more than worth it to spend a day in this garden wonderland. Because the effort of the brand is to create a truly unique customer experience, terrain allows visitors to do more than just shop. You can have a freshly baked pastry or latte at the coffee bar or enjoy farm-to-table cuisine in our dine-in restaurant. Members of our team host unique events, workshops and how-to sessions on-site such as Early Spring Container Planting and Pot Et Fleur Spring Centerpieces, allowing customers to connect with our talented designers to bring the charm of terrain to their own homes and gardens.
All of these elements stem from the reason behind the magic of the terrain experience: harmony. We see people with vastly different skillsets, personalities and perspectives learning to work together to bring our brand to life and create a response in customers that is nothing short of awe. A flower is pretty. A candle smells nice. But, it’s combining all of these little pleasures and creating a full-scale atmosphere that plants that sunflower smile the first time you walk in. I can testify to that.
Erika Glass is an alumna of Hempfield High School and will graduate from West Chester University this month. For more information about terrain, call 610-459-2400 or visit shopterrain.com. Reservations for the restaurant are recommended.