FAIRFIELD, NJ - Many residents were surprised and saddened to hear that Fairfield Garden Center announced it will close its doors for good after 52 years. Fairfield Garden Center was also home to Jody's Silk Florist, whose Christmas Ice Caverns became an annual holiday tradition for many families prior to its closing.
Fairfield Garden Center and Jody's Silk Florist were both established in 1967 by the Fernicola Family. In keeping with the company's slogan — "We're more than just a garden center" — Fairfield Garden Center sold everything from seasonal items to Koi ponds, and was home to popular activities like the Tunnel of Terror as well as pictures with Santa and the Easter Bunny.
According to John Fernicola, one of the current owners of the family business, the Christmas Ice Caverns was one the most memorable activities among residents. Originally created by Fernicola's father, the Christmas Ice Caverns featured a series of tunnels filled with elaborate animatronic holiday decorations and hidden items throughout for children to seek and find.
Fernicola explained that while he and his family enjoyed servicing the community for many years and is very thankful for their customers, the family saw a decline in traffic and sales over the past few years as a result of online competition as well as local competition with other seasonal garden stores. Although not an easy decision, the family decided to close the business while it was still lucrative, he said.
As the family understands that many Fairfield residents see the Christmas Ice Caverns as an annual tradition, Fernicola said he hopes to find a way to keep the Christmas Ice Cavern and Santa tradition alive.
Fairfield Garden Center began an "Everything Must Go" sale last week in the wake of its closing during which everything is 75 percent off. Customer rewards, gift cards and certificates have no cash value and will not be redeemable for cash, according to the garden center staff.
In response to the many messages and outpouring of love and support following the announcement, the Fairfield Garden Center released the following statement on the Christmas Ice Caverns Facebook page earlier this week:
"The [ice caverns] display is not by any means ending just going to have to relocate. We will be keeping everyone updated. We also understand everyone’s sentimental value to their family’s bricks purchased over the years. They are all safe and sound and coming with us, as you are our family and we thank you all for letting us be part of your family’s Christmas tradition. We are working hard to keep the tradition alive. Thank you all so much."
The owners also announced that there would be a sale on Jan. 19 and 20 of commercial animation pieces. Cash and carry; no credit cards. Must take upon purchase. There are pieces from Fountains of Wayne, Willow Run, a private collection and more. Displays start at $300. Animation that is for sale are part of a 30 year collection of pieces that haven't been used and would not be used in upcoming displays.There is also going to be a sale on store fixtures. For updates visit https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasIceCaverns/.