INGLESIDE — A fixture in Morrisburg for decades, The Village Green Flower Shop has sprouted new roots in Ingleside, where owner and award-winning designer Elise Francis puts the bloom on special occasions and weddings.
Francis got her start in the industry more than 20 years ago when she began working for her parents, Bo and Maureen Fodrek, the last owners of the original version of The Village Green Flower Shop.
“And I took some courses and started gaining some confidence in my designing. Then I started doing some floral arrangements for weddings,” says Francis, whose own 1997 wedding was her first assignment in the bridal segment. “And I had a few other clients and friends’ weddings that I did.”
Her experience branched out to handle the floral needs of weddings in places like Montreal and Ottawa, including those of local professional hockey players Matt Carkner and Bryan Helmer.
She adds, “It’s one of the things that I really enjoy. I love doing weddings. It’s an important date and I really want to know what the bride is looking for, what kind of image she wants to present, to complement what she’s already picked out for her dresses.”
Francis revived The Village Green name last October, opening up in retail space shared with a separate business she operates in partnership with Trish Messervey of Morewood — Christian gift store Under His Grace. It marks a return to the trade since Francis and her parents closed the original Morrisburg shop about 10 years ago “after I had baby number number two,” explains the entrepreneur who opted to run a daycare business in the intervening years. She also kept her fingers in the floral design industry by taking on some wedding projects for other flower shops.
She’s “pulled her parents out of retirement” to assist as delivery drivers and in other ways at the new Ingleside operation, she jokes. And she’s taken along the original flower-cooler glass doors from the Morrisburg site. They now offer a view into the cooler at the resurrected location (Unit 1b, 15 Dickinson Drive).
And business has been growing at the new enterprise — with the gift shop and flower operation “balancing each other out” nicely, she says. “January was busier than October-November, and I’ve had repeat customers, which is really nice.”
The shop is independent and not affiliated with the “wire services” once so prominent in the flower industry. Before the Internet, traditional networks like FTD made it possible for customers to call their local florist and have a bouquet delivered in, say, Calgary. “Things have changed a lot with the Internet. We have a website and take orders online now,” Francis explains. “And with the social media, you can build up a network of florists to make deliveries outside your area.”
The Village Green Flower Shop draws upon suppliers in Montreal and Toronto to get anything a client might desire for their wedding or other special event.
The proprietor recommends at least two or three months of lead time when selecting flowers for a wedding.
“I can work with any budget and make it beautiful,” she emphasizes, saying an order could be as small as a single bride’s bouquet at $50.
She says the last few years has seen a trend in hand-tied bouquets offering a “country casual” look. “I like to design both hand-tied bouquets and bouquets with a holder. And I’ve seen a little bit of a comeback on Pinterest with cascading bouquets.”
“And it seems to be all seasons now [for weddings]. Fall has definitely increased.”
She also looks forward to stocking more flowers for Valentine’s Day.