Old meets new in old mill

The Old Flower Mill on San Benito Street is located in one of Hollister’s oldest buildings, a former flour mill.

A mixture of the old and new, indoor and outdoor, something to
fit those with a more eclectic taste and items to please almost
everyone can be found at one of Hollister’s newest shops, The Old
Flower Mill.
A mixture of the old and new, indoor and outdoor, something to fit those with a more eclectic taste and items to please almost everyone can be found at one of Hollister’s newest shops, The Old Flower Mill.

Fittingly, this unique blend of plants, garden items, gifts and antiques can be found in one of Hollister’s oldest buildings.

“This building was originally a flour mill,” said Jessica Walker, who along with her mother Jody Ayars owns the business.

“There used to be a very tall building behind this one,” Ayars said. “They used to stand on that building to take pictures of the downtown. Because of that you wouldn’t see this building right beneath it. It was the Victor Flour Mill. The railroad ties in the side yard are original to the building.”

Both Ayars and Walker love antiques and gardening. The Old Flower Mill is filled with an interesting array from fine china to antique English stained-glass windows. There are soaps from France, a line of Renee’s Garden seeds, wind sculptures by Neil Slater, garden sculptures and a large selection of pottery.

One-of-a-kind bird houses dot the nursery yard as do whimsical bird feeders, garden statues, wall plaques and bird baths. Then there are the plants themselves.

“We have a wide selection of unique perennials,” Ayars said. “We try to have things you won’t find elsewhere, but plants that will do well here.”

Ayars said the nursery evokes nostalgic feelings in many people.

“People come in and see different things that bring back memories,” she said. “Even in the store, we try to have a garden theme, though with some of the furniture that’s stretching it a bit.”

The Old Flower Mill opened on Labor Day weekend of this year. Since then, Ayars, Walker and close friend Diane Garcia have worked hard to keep things fresh and continually changing. Garcia creates many of the unique items for sale.

Ayars moved to Hollister three years ago from Southern California, where she had a mail-order flower business. She’s also grown flowers commercially, worked in a retail nursery and sold antiques.

“I’ve always wanted to own a shop like this,” Ayars said. “When we looked at the building and saw it had a side yard we knew this was what we needed. According to Diane, who grew up here, this was a nursery in the 1960s.”

Both mother and daughter are pleased at the result of their hard work.

“This is a real kid-friendly place,” Walker said. “You won’t find that everywhere. My own daughters come here in the morning and play in the yard. I work the hours my children are in school. I also enjoy working with my mom. We’ve had a lot of people happy to see us in Hollister. Lots of people come back on a regular basis to see what’s new and how we’ve redone things.”

The Old Flower Mill is located at 853 San Benito Street. Store hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There may be extended hours for the holiday season. For more information, call 635-0195.

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