A lily and a sparrow
Fashion, fragrance make Medina store a destination.
Laura Gardner left a career in accounting to start a clothing store in Medina in 2010. The store, a lily and a sparrow, is part of Medina’s downtown renaissance.
For twenty years Gardner obsessed over numbers in her career as an accountant. The Medina native six years ago decided to start her own business, combining a love of fashion with a love of her small hometown.
It was a radical change, allowing her to embrace creativity and independence. Gardner opened “a lily and a sparrow” in a Main Street storefront, carrying designer clothes, accessories, shoes, and handbags. The store also sells perfume, scarves, pottery, and candles and draws a dedicated clientele from Buffalo and Rochester as well as the local community. “We’re unique and different, with products that people can’t get anywhere else,” Gardner says.
The high-fashion women’s clothing store carries clothes from Masai (Denmark), Ronen Chen (Israel), XCVI (Los Angeles), and Renuar (Montreal)—clothes described variously as “ethnic bohemian,” trendy, and avant-garde. Gardner also sells handmade women’s jewelry, organic cotton clothing, and many scents in the fragrance department.
She keeps track of stores in Buffalo and Rochester to make sure she isn’t selling the same clothes and products.
After four years of renting a downtown storefront, Gardner bought a building that had been home to a shoe store for more than fifty years. She did extensive renovations to the site, which looked—and was—straight out of the seventies.
At 438 Main Street, Gardner took out walls, pulled up orange carpeting, removed drop ceilings, and gutted the walls to the bare bricks to create a radically different space. The store feels like it belongs in Pittsford. Gardner says the store has been well-suited for downtown Medina, a historic business district from the mid- to late-1800s. Many new businesses have opened in the past decade, joining mainstays such as Blissett’s, which sells gowns, and the Book Shoppe, an independent book store that opened in 1993.
Main Street and the downtown are vibrant with numerous independent merchants, including a tea shop, antique stores with vintage housewares, Wide Angle Art Gallery, upscale Italian dining, a meadery, boutique hotel, and an opera house that is the focus of renovations and preservation.
“People are looking for the destination,” Gardner says. “They need multiple stops. People like coming to Medina because there are multiple things to do.” Many of her customers also enjoy stopping by businesses on Ridge Road, including Jeddo Mill Antiques, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, and Hurd Orchards in Holley.
Tom Rivers is a reporter based in Albion. His books are Farm Hands: Hard Work and Hard Lessons from Western New York Farms and All Ears: A Decade of Listening and Learning from Small-Town Western New Yorkers.