–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff
PUBLICATION DATE: Aug 18, 2020
Gina’s Art & Garden, 13740 Old State Line Rd., Swanton, opened the first of July, fulfilling a dream that originated with owner Gina Keeler and some of her grandchildren several years ago.
“I had always envisioned myself opening a business of my own. For years I have worked in healthcare management, helping to start up, expand and even merge medical practices, so I knew what was needed to start a business,” Keeler noted. “I was baking with one of my grandchildren one day when she asked if someday we would open our own little shoppe and that it would be a happy place for people to come to. Later, two other granddaughters and I made sketches of what we envisioned the shoppe to be like,” she recalled.
However, Keeler’s plans were delayed as she battled leukemia and the subsequent bone marrow transplant.
“Finally, 14 years after that initial diagnosis, this has all happened. My sister, Patty Yates, is moving back to the area where we all grew up and she acquired this farm property, which presented the perfect setting for the shoppe my granddaughters and I had pictured,” she said.
Thanks to the support and help from her seven children and many of her brothers and sisters, the former farm storage shed and the poultry barn have been refurbished to hold an array of home furnishings and home decor items that are on display and available for sale.
Keeler repurposes and repaints furniture, crochets afghans and offers photography services. Her sister, Joan Gomer, makes toddler and infant blankets, pillows, pouches, purses, diaper bags and more; sister Cathy O’Rourke creates rice bags, masks, infant bibs and other useful items while her husband Kevin creates bottle art, which is also on display. Kelly O’Rourke makes the soy candles and melts while friend Kerry Hite also contributes her refurbished furniture and home decor items. Another friend, Holly Cross, has her goats milk scented soaps for sale.
Adjacent to the two showrooms in the shoppe is a walkway filled with plants, garden art and garden settings that winds past a fish-stocked pond leading to the raised garden beds of lavender, rosemary, vegetables, sunflowers and perennials growing in abundance.
“But more than all that,” according to Keeler, “Is the environment. This truly is a happy place where people can come and enjoy. During my journey with leukemia, I realized the importance of surrounding myself with positive energy, beauty, nature and things that make me happy. That is also true for care givers. I feel that this setting offers just that and I am encouraging people to stop by and just enjoy the quiet serene country setting, the gardens and the whole experience as well as the items that are for sale,” she pointed out.
An array of Saturday classes will begin in the fall including nutrition, soap making, candle making, cooking with herbs and their medicinal properties, furniture repurposing and repainting and more. Classes will be from 11 am to noon beginning in September running through December.
Currently, Gina’s Art & Garden is open Friday from 5 to 8 pm; Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm or by appointment.
“I am so thrilled that this shoppe is now open,” Keeler explained. “I feel that I am serving as a good role model for my grandchildren and showing them that dreams can come true. I also am so happy to be ‘paying it forward,’ offering a serene and uplifting environment to benefit others in need.”