Lexington Gardens, the town’s plant and giftware store, has closed for business, at least temporarily, and questions remain whether it will reopen.
“Our club members have been going there since it opened." Town and Country Garden Club president Barbara O’Connor said of the store. "It’s been a real entity for gardeners. They will be very disappointed if it’s gone.”
The store closed unexpectedly last Thursday, Jan. 13. Gregory Cinocolo, who owns the business at 32 Church Hill Road, could not be reached for comment Monday. Questions were left with his secretary regarding the store’s closing and if he would reopen it.
Ruth Newquist, a member of the Society of Creative Arts of Newtown, said her organization had looked forward to presenting a show of member paintings at the store this week, but the show had to be cancelled after a problem with the heating caused the store to be closed. SCAN was set to present its annual show at the store.
The store was supposed to close Feb. 1 for renovations, and a plan had been in place to reopen it in April, according to one of the store's employees who did not want to be identified. But then after being told the store was closed, the employee received a severance check last Thursday.
Beth Caldwell, president of the Garden Club of Newtown, said she had heard the store had closed permanently, leaving herself and club members disappointed.
“Lexington Gardens has been an icon for us gardeners for years. Its closing a real loss for Newtown,” she said.
Other former patrons said they had a different impression of the store and its future.
“I bought thousands of dollars worth of plants at Lexington Gardens. But, I stopped going there about five months ago because the service had deteriorated,” said George Miller, a leader in the Newtown Horticultural Club, who enjoys growing tropical plants. “It makes no sense to do anything with the store now in the winter, but it will probably reopen in the spring.”
The 40,000 square-foot facility, including greenhouses and 18,000 square feet of retail space, was built in 1973. It became a regional destination for plant and landscaping enthusiasts of all kinds, because it offered exotic as well as common plants for gardens and homes.
Thomas Johnson took over the business in 1983 and devoted himself to growing and selling a wide variety of plants ranging from tropical types, such as orchids, hibiscus and cactus, to the azaleas, dogwoods, lilacs, perennial flowers and mums typically grown in New England.
In November 2008, Johnson, seeking to retire, sold the business to Cinocolo, who formed an entity, SLC Properties LLP, to own it.
Cinocolo and his staff have sought to redesign the store to provide a variety of products in addition to the usual plants and shrubs, including Italian specialty foods, bird houses and pottery, to attract a new range of customers. Some of the store’s seasonal offerings, such as Christmas decorations, were curtailed last year due to the current economic conditions, the staff explained.
The property, including its building complex and 5-acre site in a business zone, is appraised at $2,226,293, with an assessed value of $1,586,400, according to town records.