THREE CHEERS — Hip Hip Hooray!
This column salutes REAP businesses that are
finding ways to increase their success.
Meadows near Hastings, NE Serves as Entrepreneur’s Therapy
Country Meadows is
Harriet McFeely’s backyard that you just can’t believe. She turned her “therapy” of gardening into a business. She keeps dreaming of new things to do and never seems to run out of energy. Lots of energy is a great asset to an entrepreneur.
The McFeely’s purchased their home just outside of Hastings in 1991. Harriet and her husband
Dick started fixing up their garden then. Harriet was always into rock gardens, bones, and driftwoods, with one idea leading to another in developing their garden.
After a garage sale and several folks seeing their place, they had requests to return. So the idea of hosting outdoor garden events such as parties, weddings, and retreats came about. Country Meadows was created as a business in the fall of 1999.
Initially they used tables made by some friends and a converted garage as a meeting place. Harriet hired a caterer for events, then after the encouragement of her husband and adding a commercial kitchen, Harriet became the business’ food preparer.
Harriet believes in the power of helping others. She loves networking and liked the idea that REAP was all about small business networking and education. She hosted a REAP business plan training in 2002, and in 2006 she received a Women and Company Microenterprise Boost award through REAP.
With the award she was able to do some additional advertising and some additions and maintenance to the garden. REAP has encouraged her to “target” her marketing, so her latest garden addition and marketing efforts have been focused on the red hat ladies.
The opening event for that section of the garden took place last summer and was a great success, with over 75 in attendance! She hopes many of the red hat visitors will be return customers or tell others of Country Meadows.
The garden and Country Meadows is constantly evolving. Harriet says the greatest challenges in this business are making money, marketing and advertising, and the maintenance costs of the facilities and the garden. But there have been many rewards. She loves being the hostess, meeting visitors, and watching her beautiful garden flourish and continue to develop.
Dick and Harriet have four grown children. Dick was the past executive director of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, retiring in 1991. He also started the Grand Island Credit Bureau, so he’s been very entrepreneurial during his career as well. They are Team National members, and enjoy telling others about the benefits of belonging.
In the garden, Harriet can’t always tell if something is going to be a weed or a flower, “until it does something”. Harriet has been writing a book that she’s calling “From Marigolds to Miracles,” and says she might not be done writing it until she’s 90 years old. For most of us though, it’ll be worth the