By Lindell J. Kay | firstname.lastname@example.org | 252-265-8117
BAILEY — When the coronavirus pandemic caused a downtown in the economy, a Nash County native moved home from New York City to revive her family’s Christmas wreath business.
For the first time in more than 15 years, the Finch Forest will open for business on Thanksgiving Day.
Located at 4462 Stoney Hill Church Road just outside Bailey, the Finch Tree Farm originally opened in 1987. Pearl Finch, now 93, retired in 1990 from teaching at Barton College to join the family business making wreaths.
The tree farm closed in 2000 with the death of Pearl’s son, Ray Finch. The wreath business lasted a few years longer, but then that shuttered as well.
Now, new life is being breathed into the wreath business. Pearl Finch said she was proud her granddaughter Heather Louise Finch received an education and followed her dreams to New York. Pearl’s also happy and proud to see her granddaughter return home.
Heather Finch, now in her 30s, grew up on the family farm, learning all about all about trees from her father and how to make wreaths from her grandmother. But Heather Finch had her sights set on the big city. She moved first to Washington, then New York City.
“My roots kept me grounded,” Finch said. “Both my parents worked full-time jobs. I was surrounded by entrepreneurial women growing up.”
In a few short years after leaving home, Finch earned her MBA, started her own marketing firm and went from a farm girl to being named a top influencer to people under 40 by Washington Magazine.
Finch enjoyed a good career in marketing — until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“It was like someone threw a hammer at a glass wall,” Finch said. “I went from too busy to nothing.”
Finch, who lived alone in a studio apartment in downtown Manhattan, began to feel homesick.
“I couldn’t stay inside all day,” Finch said, adding that New York City became a ghost town like something out of an apocalyptic horror film.
Finch visited Bailey in March. It was supposed to be for a few days but turned into weeks. Then her mother fell and injured her legs in July, so Finch stayed home longer.
“My mentor Joe Fluet always says about me that per usual, ‘you’re always running on afterburner,’” Finch said.
Fluet, a veteran, is the CEO and founder of MAG Aerospace. An afterburner is an additional combustion component used on some jet engines.
“I had been going 100 mph with 80-hour workweeks for so long,” Finch said. “By August, I knew I was staying home.”
Finch had been wide open since college. A chance to reconnect with the calm and quiet of the woods appealed to her.
“I’ve spent time in the forest,” Finch said. “I’ve been re-engaging with the woods. I grieved over my father for the first time. It’s been 20 years since he died. I found some of his old forestry books. He was trying to teach me so much before he died. I called the Forestry Service. I never thought I would be making wreaths again, living on the farm, driving an old pickup truck. I’m healing. I’m one with nature. I will be planting trees in February. Just a small batch at first.”
Finch said she bought a domain name, set up a website and went to making wreaths for the first time in years. She’s happy to be a small business owner. She said America is built on small business. She encouraged folks to support small businesses like Bailey Tree Farm. The owner is one of her longtime friends dating back to grade school.
“I love Bailey,” Finch said. “I’m still best friends with the people I knew kindergarten.”
The Finch Forest will be open Thanksgiving Day from noon to 5:30 p.m. and Black Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Regular hours are noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Finch encourages appointments. The Finch Forest is online at finchforest.com and on Facebook and Instagram at @thefinchforest.
“We encourage ordering online or emailing us to inquire for multiple orders, because they have to be made in advance,” Finch said. “However, we will have some live greenery mixes and pinecone wreaths available for purchase on site with the ornament selection.”