Home » Sharon » A new garden center and nursery, plus a home for Suzie’s Bakery

Megan Mollica has almost completed renovations at the former Nora’s in Sharon, and hopes to open her new garden center at the end of this month. Photo by Lans Christensen

A new garden center and nursery, plus a home for Suzie’s Bakery

SHARON — For decades it was known as Nora’s, a popular place to get plants as well as decorative garden items and antique furniture.

Nora Hulton grew up in New Milford and, with the brash confidence of a 25-year-old, she saw the 19th-century building at the intersection of Routes 4 and 7 in Sharon, just before the concrete bridge, and decided she wanted to open a garden center and nursery there.

Nora’s opened on Mother’s Day weekend in 1989. Helping out were Hulton’s mother, Jeanne Hulton, and her uncle. It started as just plants but, Hulton recalled in a phone interview last week, she started buying antiques to decorate the historic building — and people started asking if they could buy the furnishings.

The community was supportive of Nora’s, which grew into a place where people could catch up with each other while they shopped.

“We knew everyone and their stories,” Hulton said. “Who had died. Who was having babies. It was a local center; people would just stop in and chat.”

But in 2008, the year of the global financial crisis, “the bottom dropped out of the market,” Hulton recalled. And her beloved uncle had a heart attack and died.

“And that took the wind out of my sails. He was a big part of the business for me.”

New but not radically new

Hulton put the building and 3/4 acre of land up for sale, but there were no takers until 2018, when landscaper Megan Mollica decided it was time to cut back on her gardening work and move into retail.

“I was 40 years old and just had a baby and it was weird but I felt like, ‘I want to buy that building.’”

Mollica’s husband is a carpenter and she had hoped that they would be able to renovate the aging building in time to open by spring 2019.

As anyone knows who’s worked on historic houses, renovating is tricky and can take much longer than expected.

And that’s what happened.

But everything has fallen into place now and Mollica has plans to open in late March.

Although she grew up in Kent and has lived in West Cornwall since about 1996, Mollica was not familiar with the original Nora’s.

“Everybody other than me knew it,” Mollica said. “Whenever I would mention the building people would say, ‘Oh, Nora’s!’”

But Mollica’s new plans have a nice overlap with Hulton’s business. In addition to plants, she will sell garden antiques. There will be some local and seasonal foods  (everything from cut flowers to dairy products to meats) in an interior retail space.  She plans to showcase products from local artisans and growers.

Both Mollica and Hulton said how pleased they are that the new Cornwall Bridge Gardens won’t be radically different from Nora’s.

A home for Suzie’s Bakery

There will however be one significant but enticing change: One third of the retail space inside has been leased to Susan Saccardi and her son, Dean, who have been successfully growing their Suzie’s Sweets baked goods (which will now be called Suzie’s Bakery) for the past few years and have a large cult following.

At first the Saccardi pastries were only sold at the Cornwall farmers market that is on the Green across from Town Hall. Next the bakers built a roadside stand near their house. They are now also a staple item at The Local in West Cornwall.

Dean Saccardi said they will continue to sell at The Local and the farmers market, and are pleased that they can now do all the baking in the new commercial kitchen they’ve built in the garden center building.

In addition to fresh pastries and bread, the Saccardis plan to sell coffee and espresso drinks and, in summer, ice cream from Peaches ‘N Cream in Litchfield.

Mollica hopes that the Saccardis’ offerings will work in tandem with the foods and products she will sell “so the customer can come in and buy everything for a meal or weekend in one stop.”

For now both inside retail businesses are planning “soft” openings on March 31. The outdoor garden center portion of the business is expected to open sometime in April.

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