Marlene Powers knows a thing or three about the holidays. For more than three decades her Christmas theme and Fall creations have decorated hundreds of homes and businesses throughout the North Country. We caught up with Marlene at her North Country Natural headquarters on Alder Meadow Road, on the eve of what’s going to be three weeks of non-stop decoration making.
So just how did Marlene get into the business? “It was just something that I always played with., I'm an artsy type person,” Marlene says, as she shows us around her big barn that will soon be filled with greens, cones and wood of all shapes and sizes.
.“When everything's here, we're going to have some floral arrangements. We will have silk, we will have artificial decorations, cone decorations, the greenery, that includes kissing balls, swags, candy canes, crosses, and literally anything anybody comes in with and says, "Can you fix this for me." Can you make this ho, ho, ho, and we do our best.
“We're not a florist, so some people think because of all the other things that I do for the embellishments I am, but I'm not there yet. There's a chance that someday I will be, but at this point we're working on getting this store stocked before becoming an actual year-round shop”
Starting next week Marlene says she will have a great selection of wintergreens with “Holiday things, Fall things, cones, just different decorations that I do. Actually, when I started out doing this business, it was Gifts from Nature ,and it was primarily cones and then I did the greenery on the side, and then of course I was also growing herbs and things.
“It's seasonal so right now I'm going to stay with the greenery, the cone stuff backs it up but that I work on all year round”
Marlene can ship her goods anywhere, and many of her customers carry her works of art with them as gifts.
“I've had kissing balls picked up before Thanksgiving that ended up in Rhode Island, all over New York State. I have actually, this is so ironic, sent 20-some-odd wreaths one year to Oregon” Marlene says a lot of her sales locally come from word of mouth with her creations ending up in Chestertown, North Creek, “pretty much the entire Tri Lakes area”.
Where does Marlene source her greens from?
“We go up into property of the families, in North Hudson, then I've got friends up in Minerva, and then I do pay certain people that have wood lots and then they just trim it, they don't take the trees, and then it grows back. Wreaths or kissing balls? What’s your most popular item?
"Kissing balls are unique, so I will have to say they're the most popular item. You can pretty much get wreaths anywhere, and mine are not stuck in Styrofoam like some of them”
Marlene prides herself on being able to come up with any creation a customer wants, with any combination of greens and naturals.
“A lot of times, you can use white pine, cedar if it's an agreeable branch because it's so gnarly. Like I said, it depends on the product, the size of the product, and how flamboyant they want to be”.
214 Alder Meadow Road, Schroon Lake. (518) 681-0340