While most Caribbean architecture is designed to incorporate the cooling breezes, nothing takes advantage of the island’s tropical environment more than a lush garden and relaxing pond.
Before Linda and Bob Harsch opened Goose Neck Gardens in the old Voyages building in Coral Bay early this month, however, St. John residents had to resort to online shopping or traveling to St. Thomas for their outdoor furniture and decorative needs.
Offering high-quality lines of teak furniture, bronze statues and fountains, filtration systems, concrete plant holders, cast stone, copper torches and stained glass lamps, the Harsches are dedicated to bringing durable merchandise to Love City.
“We’re trying to carry products that last in this environment — things you don’t have to replace every year,” said Bob Harsch.
“It’s more value for your money,” added Linda Harsch.
Although new to the island, the Harsches are veterans in the garden and pond business, having started their company in Southington, CT, 16 years ago.
The couple first started their New England business because of their own love for the outdoors, explained Linda Harsch.
“We liked being in our garden at home so much it gave us the idea to start a business,” she said.
A difficult time finding quality furniture also led the couple into the business, added Bob Harsch.
“I used to buy a patio set for our deck and every year I needed a new one,” he said. “I was throwing away the set every year and I thought it was crazy. So I started looking for high-quality furniture lines.”
With their business in full swing, the duo discovered St. John after taking their very first airplane ride to St. Thomas in 2003.
“We booked a trip to St. Thomas on a whim and we were thinking of staying on St. John, but decided to stay over there,” said Bob Harsch. “We rented a car and took the ferry here and saw Gallows Point Resort where we had considered staying. We said to ourselves, ‘gosh we sure made a mistake.’”
After checking out of their St. Thomas hotel and moving their things over to Gallows, the Harsches enjoyed the last four days of their vacation in Cruz Bay.
“We went back home and started looking at property on line,” Bob Harsch said. “We bought a piece of land out here in Coral Bay sight unseen. We bought it in May and came down here in July to see it.”
“We had never even been out to Coral Bay,” he added.
It took the couple a few days to adjust to Love City driving conditions, including the four switch-backs on Sea Grape Hill they had to traverse to get to their land, explained Linda Harsch.
But with the driving down pat, the Harsches first displayed their wares at the 2006 Home Show at The Marketplace, where they received a lot of interest.
“We brought down some water lilies and teak furniture and we had such a great reaction from people we decided to open our business here,” Bob Harsch said.
Goose Neck Gardens carries a full line of Kingsley Bate teak furniture, Campania International cast stone pottery and Meyda lamps. The Harsches also offer AquaBead pond filtering systems, which come highly recommended, according to Bob Harsch.
“These are the filtering systems used by Hilary Clinton and the Bronx Zoo,” he said. “And the first one sold on St. John was bought by Akiba ‘Mr. Snooze’ Pickering. He’s going to use it for a tilapia pond.”
With an endorsement from a member of the island’s favorite reggae band, Inner Visions, the Harsches should expect AquaBeads to fly off their shelves.
The island’s new garden store also carries natural insect repellent and bay rum soap as well as a full array of pottery.
Bob Harsch will also be bringing down more water garden plants, including water lilies and lotus plants. And everything they have is well-made, because, as their logo says, Goose Neck Gardens only offers “quality products for island living.”
Stop by the old Voyages building in Coral Bay and check out the new garden store Sunday through Wednesday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information call 514-1107.