t’s a family affair at Sam Bridge Nursery and Greenhouses where the Bridge clan keeps the business growing.
As a member of the third generation of the Bridge family at Sam Bridge Nursery and Greenhouses, Maggie Bridge knows what it takes to run a thriving legacy business with those you’re related to. “I think it comes down to the fact that we all work well together as a family,” says Bridge, manager of sales and marketing. “Everyone has their own niche and area of expertise, so we don’t step on each other’s toes.”
The source of their inspiration is Sam Bridge Jr., who founded the Greenwich landscaping and nursery company in 1930 and worked there until he was 95, a month before he passed away in 2010. His granddaughter says she thinks he would be excited to see where his progeny have taken his company. “In 2014, we renovated our space and added a gutter-connected greenhouse to replace the plastic hoop houses,” says Bridge, who, along with her brother and cousins, recently became a partner.
She explains that their retail operation makes up about two-thirds of the business, with landscape design rounding out the other third—which is the sector that’s seeing the most growth, she says. In season, which runs from March until Christmas, the company has about 75 employees. “One of the silver linings of Covid is that so many people have become interested in gardening again,” she explains. “We’re excited to see new gardeners get their hands dirty.”
In terms of what customers want now, “a big one is screening, or hiding the neighbors!” says Bridge with a laugh, “and to delineate your space. Pollinator gardens are big. Foundation plantings are really important too because that’s what finishes your home. A really well-landscaped space can add at least 20 percent to your home’s value.”
Another growing trend is that people want to be more environmentally conscious. For that, Bridge advises making use of native plants. “They can support hundreds of species of insects and birds,” says Bridge, “when some of the ornamental plants would only support 15 to 20 species. Picking the rights plants for the right space is key and that’s why working with a landscape designer is great. They can guide you to your space’s fullest potential.”
When it comes to family, the company continues to host the Greenwich Reindeer Festival, where families can pose with Santa for festive photos, visit with live reindeer and choose their own frasier fir trees. The Bridge family is growing as well: Bridge gave birth to her second child right after Christmas 2021—one of 10 kids in this next generation.
Overall, Bridge says that while her family is “excited to see where we’re going to take the landscape design part, we’re always tweaking the retail experience to make it the best for the customer. We just want to share the joy of plants with as many people as we can. That’s what makes us happy.