Beyond the House owner Cindy Cluett is shown during the recent Spring Into Summer fundraiser for Ukraine. Thompson Goddard Photo

Bringing sunshine inside and out

RUSSELL – One step inside Beyond the House in Russell, and you begin to feel like you are in an enchanted place. From the shelves filled with imaginative and exciting gift ideas, to the greenhouses and outdoor areas filled with plants, a visit to the business demonstrates how owner Cindy Cluett has achieved her goal of setting “up a business where people could buy plants and pretty things year-round.”

Cluett explained her business is 15 years old, which started out in Barry’s Home Hardware, before moving to its present location at 114 Craig Street about a decade ago. Beyond the House has both seasonal and year-round components to the business.

Seasonal products include a variety of plants including perennials, annuals, vines, shrubs, and trees as well as soil, seed, and other gardening accessories. As the local growing season arrives, the on-site greenhouses and outdoor areas burst into colour providing shoppers with an amazing selection of tropical and annuals to choose from. An added feature of Beyond the House is the opportunity to receive assistance and advice from staff, with Cluett herself, a graduate of the horticultural program at Algonquin College.

The on-site boutique is open year-round, providing clients with the opportunity to purchase indoor houseplants, décor, gifts, clothing, and accessories such as jewelry. Cluett noted “during the Christmas season, we sell all things related to indoor and outdoor décor.” She continued Beyond the House run workshops throughout the year, “including educational sessions on gardening” with urn and wreath arrangement workshops held during the Christmas season.

Cluett explained one of the joys associated with running Beyond the House is the people she meets daily. She continued how “the customers are great and most importantly my staff is fantastic!” She noted that she is happiest when in the greenhouse or outside working with plants rather than being in the office.

“Most people turned towards gardening and anything home related” during the pandemic, with Cluett noting [that] the pandemic affected sales in a positive manner.” She explained how gardening helps to relieve stress, which became important as people experienced varying amounts of stress during the pandemic.

Beyond the House is a supporter of community events, with Cluett mentioning the annual event Spring Into Summer was generally held as a fundraiser for the Russell Ladies’ Night. When she learned the event would not be held this year, she organized the 2022 Spring Into Summer to be a fundraiser for the Canada Ukraine Foundation.

For those considering a career in business, especially a garden centre and gift shop combination, Cluett mentions it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to be successful. She noted the seasonal nature of a garden centre means “there is no option to take time off in the month of May.

More information can be found on the Beyond the House’s Facebook page and website.

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