UPPER TOWNSHIP — Nature lovers flock to Wild Garden Accents on Route 9 in the Seaville section here for the vast selection of products to attract wildlife to their yards.
Since a lot of that animal-friendly inventory is outdoors, the store also regularly draws a lot of visitors who want to just enjoy what’s available.
“Many people ask if we’re playing bird song tapes, but they’re hearing actual visiting birds,” said Howard Herman, store director and husband of owner Wanda Kline, of Ocean City.
Opossums, hawks, turtles and frogs have also visited, he said.
“Two little raccoons took up residence in one of our birdhouses and were here for weeks,” he said. “Walking around, you never know what you’re going to find.”
That’s also true for the eclectic, extensive assortment of nature-related items at Wild Garden Accents.
There are not just birdbaths, and heated birdbaths, but birdbaths that keep the water moving so mosquitoes don’t breed in them.
Or if you’ve already got a birdbath, a Water Wiggler that sits in it and keeps a steady stream of ripples moving through the water.
There are not just squirrel-proof bird feeders, but an assortment of feeders that entertainingly and harmlessly twirl and flip squirrels off the feeder perches.
And seed for the feeders that’s clean and choice, so the birds eat it all instead of discarding some onto the ground to sprout as weeds.
There are not just houses for birds and toads, and ever-popular gargoyles to chase away evil spirits, but functional gargoyle bird and toad houses made by Colorado potter Douglas Fey.
Garden sculpture and pottery abound on the large lot, including a life-sized bronze of a boy fishing, the store’s most expensive item at $8,700.
Inside, the rooms are filled with nature games, guides, books and gifts, such as a hummingbird swing for a rest stop near a nectar feeder, a popular item at $12.99.
You can’t miss Wild Garden Accents on Route 9, with its colorful collection of decorative and functional outdoor items. Two passing British birders this year spotted a pair of pink flamingos and had to have them.
One driver took not missing it to the extreme in February, careening off the highway and into the store at high speed.
Herman first thought a plane had hit the building. The timing was lucky: Had it happened an hour later during a busy time, the crash would have killed five people, he said.
Kline has made her own luck for the store, terminating a franchise relationship in 2007 that was costing more in fees than the meager promotion by the franchiser was worth.
The U.S. market the store taps is huge: A federal survey last year found 71 million Americans engaged in wildlife watching, spending $55 billion on their activities.
The store’s share is in excess of $500,000 a year, Herman said — pretty good for a tough economic time.
“We just tightened our belts and adjusted,” he said.
Herman, who already partly retired once, thinks he might like to retire a little more now.
“We’re looking for some younger people to take over this business,” he said. “I’d work with them, if they’d put up with me. If I stayed home, that would be real work.”
Contact Kevin Post:
Wild Garden Accents
Location: 3002 Route 9 S., Seaville, Upper Township
Owner: Wanda Kline, of Ocean City
Director: Howard Herman, 72, of Ocean City
Revenue: In excess of $500,000