Getting ready for summer is an off-season activity

Hillary Smith, an employee at Midnight Farm, arranges a display of footwear as she gets ready for the summer. — Photo by Tony Omer

Getting ready for summer is an essential Island rite of spring for many Vineyard businesses. There is much to do.

Painting, window washing, buying new furniture, stocking shelves, lining up suppliers, hiring summer help, dusting off the cobwebs, power washing the sidewalk, cleaning the window grills and hanging the signs: they’re all part of the dance of spring.

On Main Street in Vineyard Haven, Midnight Farm features an eclectic collection of house goods, furniture, and clothes in the space once occupied by the Bunch of Grapes, which moved across the street. Owner Tamara Weiss said that since moving to the new location she has been getting ready for summer all winter.

She said that the shop typically has new merchandise arriving in late winter, so that everything gets priced correctly and is out on the floor and ready for customers before the season hits.

To make the spacious shop more suitable for her distinctive stylings she had one interior wall redone with a Venetian plaster, in a spring green color.

Getting ready for the season means flowers get planted in pots in front, windows get cleaned, staff hired and schedules secured and pinned down. “By spring time, my store is full and hopefully, all things are running smoothly,” Ms. Weiss said. “It is a very high energy and happy time.”

Edgartown turns the page

For Edgartown Books, getting ready for the summer requires reawakening from a winter nap. In addition to sprucing things up after being closed, manager Susan Mercier, who reopened on April 1, is planning an addition to the shop.

In the midst of re-doing the floors and the other necessary cosmetic work, cleaning, painting, and restocking the shelves, she has permission from the town to open a coffee bar this spring on a trial basis.

The Behind the Bookstore Café will offer coffee, cappuccino, and espresso, as well as fresh-baked goods by a classically trained French pastry chef. If all goes well, she hopes to expand the Café in the fall. She said new books are arriving daily and she is ready for summer.

The Seafood Shanty, on the harbor in Edgartown, does something new each winter to get ready for the summer season. “Some of our projects are apparent, others are behind the scenes, but all are done with the goal of giving our customers a better experience,” co-owner Denise Page told The Times.

Management has remodeled just about every aspect of the restaurant since purchasing it in 2000. This winter they are renovating the restrooms. “Although not glamorous, it is important when you average 1,800 meals a day at the height of the season,” she said.

Every winter, all the wood floors and the dining table tops are redone, and this winter the kitchen got a new state-of-the-art dishwasher.

Ms. Page said that making adjustments to the menu before the season begins “is always a fun challenge, but we feel it is very important to constantly assess and reassess in order to keep it fresh.” New items are being considered and some old dishes may be deleted.

There are not many Island enterprises that are more seasonal than the landscaping and gardening businesses even if they are open year-round. Chuck Wiley of Vineyard Gardens in West Tisbury said he has a long check-list of spring duties.

Spring growth

Spring preparation means ordering the garden-related items for the store and greenhouses on State Road. Among the items ordered are trees and shrubs. Delivery dates must be confirmed and the boat reservations coordinated with the trucking companies that deliver the goods. Perennials in several forms are ordered as well, bare root plants, full grown plants and plug trays, young plants that must be potted.

The greenhouses are cleaned after they are emptied of plants stored in them over the winter. The heaters and fans must be checked and repaired if necessary.

On March 1, Debbie Dean, head propagator at Vineyard Gardens, started seeds in the propagation house on Old Stage Road. Not too long after, both young perennials and annuals are moved to the greenhouses at both their State Road and Old Stage Road locations.

The spring is also when they dig up the shrubs that they grow at their Old Stage Road location. The shrubs are moved to the store area on State Road.

A busy time

This year the weather rattled the signs and posts like never before at the Mansion House, co-owner Susan Goldstein said.

“Some years we power wash and other years paint,” she said, referring to the exterior of the prominent downtown Vineyard Haven hotel.

“Ironically, our friends think that as owners and managers of an inn on the Vineyard, that we are the busiest during the summer season,” she said. “But actually our busiest time is the off-season when we can get stuff done. Once the season kicks in everything has to be done.”

The Mansion House begins the process of bringing each room that needs work up to snuff in January after the holiday season ends and there is time to visit each room, according to Ms. Goldstein. The year-round staff, working as a team, takes the rooms off-line or out of circulation, one at a time.

As needed the rooms are repainted, repaired, retiled, re-grouted, re-upholstered, re-electrified, and furniture replaced. Whatever each room needs. The beds are stripped, furniture is turned upside down and the curtains are tied up and out of the way while the work is done. A quarter of the rooms get new mattresses each year. With 48 rooms their work continues well into the spring.

To spruce up the Mansion House Health Club this winter, the steam room was retiled and the gym locker room showers were re-grouted. Older exercise machines were replaced with new hi-tech equipment, some with interactive touch screens.

The new TechnoGym equipment replaces the old treadmills, and the recumbent and stationary bikes. A machine called a Vario that combines step and elliptical functions was purchased. The 19-inch screens track fitness goals, heart rate and distance, and allow users to surf the web, watch TV, check email, and connect mobile devices.

The large TV screens are being removed from the workout room walls since the new equipment has its own screens.

The final, most fun part of spring for Ms. Goldstein? “I do the window boxes. I love that.”