New owners sought for Magic Wings butterfly conservatory in South Deerfield

  • George Miller III and his sister, Kathy Fiore, are looking to sell Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens on Routes 5 and 10 in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Butterflies perch at a feeding station at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Butterflies perch at a feeding station at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 2/17/2021 2:27:29 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — After roughly 20 years in the family, owners of the butterfly conservatory on Routes 5 and 10 are renewing an effort they began several years ago to hand over the reins to someone new.

“It’s very bittersweet,” said Kathy Fiore, who owns Magic Wings with her brother, George Miller III. “I think we’ve put our hearts and souls into it.”

Although the butterfly conservatory has been for sale since 2014, the family didn’t actively pursue it at the time, Fiore explained. Earlier this month, however, an announcement was made on Facebook that the family intends to renew its effort.

“We ran it as a family business for many years and at this point, since we lost my dad, we — my brother and I — are in a position where we want to think about retirement,” Fiore said, adding that the response so far as been “tremendous.”

Their father, George Miller Jr., who died in 2017, was hired in 1998 as a contractor to build the conservatory, Fiore said. Not long after, he partnered with the man whose original idea it was.

“Within three years’ time, my father bought out that person and brought in my brother and myself to work with him,” Fiore recalled.

In those years, “blood, sweat and tears, literally” have been put into the butterfly conservatory, and that’s partly why Fiore and Miller aim to sell the business as it is — home to 4,000 domestic and exotic butterflies.

“I think what we have here is such a beautiful, unique environment that you really can’t find anywhere else,” Fiore said. “We’re just looking for people who have that same passion that we do, and maybe some new visions for the business.”

Fiore said experience with butterflies isn’t required, but a willingness to learn is.

“We want this transition to go as smoothly as possible, and we are absolutely willing to stay on with the new folks to assist and advise them as they get comfortable with the workings of a butterfly conservatory,” she said.

Not only will she and her brother assist with the transition of a new owner, but current staff members have expressed interest in remaining at the conservatory.

“Magic Wings would not be what it is without the staff, including our curator, Fred Gagnon” she said. “He’s basically the heart and soul of Magic Wings, and he’s very interested in staying on.

“Fortunately, we have a wonderful customer base, and those folks have now started to come back,” she added.

The conservatory is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of school vacation week, which has longer hours. COVID-19 health safety guidelines are in place, including temperature checks when people arrive.

Regardless of the sale process, all bookings will be honored, she said, including weddings up through 2022. Currently, Fiore said she has nine weddings booked for 2021, beginning in April.

“We’ve carried on Magic Wings since my father’s passing,” Fiore said. “We think he’d be very proud of where we’ve brought it on our own, but we also feel like there’s some new people out there with some new energy that could take Magic Wings into its next 20 years.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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