Concord farm gets holiday boost after road work took bite out of business

Concord farm gets holiday boost after road work took bite out of business

CONCORD, Mass. — A family-owned farm crippled by road work is getting a boost in business this holiday season.

Sal Giurleo, 79, has owned Millbrook Farm in Concord since 1988. In the spring and summer, he sells flowers and plants. In the fall and winter, he offers Christmas trees, wreaths, garland and bows.

In April, when construction began on his street, he immediately saw a sharp decline in customers.

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"It's been a nightmare," Giurleo said. "It's tough to make a living today in this business. You can't make any mistakes, and then when you lose this kind of money, it's a struggle."

On one side of Millbrook Farm, the road is still closed. On the other side of the Cambridge Turnpike, there has been ongoing construction and a confusing network of detour signs.

"If you were here up until about three or four weeks ago, you couldn't come down the road," Giurleo said. "All the digging and the holes, people turn around and go home. We lost a lot of business."

Concord Town Manager Stephen Crane told Boston 25 News he understands the strain the Cambridge Turnpike Improvement Project has had on Millbrook Farm, as the town makes important improvements to the roadways and drainage system.

"Concord treasures its farms, and Millbrook is an important part of Concord's active farming community," Crane said by phone Thursday. "We are deeply sympathetic to the issues that the construction project has created for the residents and business owners…We have worked very hard, and the town has expended significant resources to minimize those impacts."

But when word of the Giurleo family's financial difficulties spread on social media over Thanksgiving weekend, suddenly dozens found their way to the farm, pledging their support for the local business.

"We were expecting a normal Friday," said Giurleo's son, Shaun, who also works the family farm. "And then there's 25 cars lined up on the street. We couldn’t get the prices on the trees or anything."

The Giurleos sold 750 Christmas trees in six days – sales they typically see in an entire season. They quickly restocked and prepared for more customers to trickle in.

"I never thought this would happen," said Sal Giurleo. "You wouldn't believe the people here. We never did that kind of business."

Mark Dunning, a Concord resident who learned about the impact on the Giurleos' business on Facebook, visited the farm Thursday night and bought a Christmas tree.

"They've had lots of construction here over the course of the last year, and we've tried over the course of the summer to buy our flowers here and couldn’t get here," Dunning said. "They've been an important part of the community for a long time, and we wanted to support them."

Construction is expected to be completed by late next year.

While Sal Giurleo is eager for that day, his recent boost in sales will help keep the mom-and-pop shop open for business.

"I'm happy," Giurleo said, with a laugh. "I've been doing it since I was 10 years old. And I like it."