Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series on iconic Westerville businesses featured monthly.
The goal of the owners of Westerville Florist, an Uptown staple at 14 S. State St. since 1958, is evergreen.
“Our goal is to cultivate happiness in everything we do, whether it’s flowers or giving,” said co-owner Candice Martini. “This is why our slogan is to cultivate the happiness of flowers. “
Martini, 49, of Worthington bought the shop with her friend Michelle Chandler, 59, of Dublin in January 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic took hold.
When the mandatory closure took place the following month, Martini said, they took the opportunity to revamp the storefront.
“We have decided not to be your traditional florist,” she said. “We want to be educational and make sure people understand flowers.
“If anyone is looking for something, we can order it. Just because we might not have something in store today doesn’t mean we can’t get it for you. People can go anywhere to get flowers. But if you buy flowers in a supermarket-like environment rather than directly on a farm, where we get them from, it makes a big difference.
Martini, whose grandmother Dee DeLuca inspired her appreciation of flowers, said her background was in special events.
She said she and Chandler are keen to hold experience-based floral events in Westerville, such as Blooms and Beverages, in addition to teaching and educating people about the art of flowers.
“We wanted something where people could come and really learn about the industry and learn more about flowers and make it an experience for them,” Martini said. “That’s why we created the Flower Bar, where they could come and choose flowers and create their own bouquets. Here we hold events called Build Your Own Bouquet (BYOB) and Blooms and Beverages, where we teach the art of flower arrangement.
In the spring and summer, she said, a tent will be set up behind the store for special events, as space inside the store is limited.
“We do most of our events offsite,” Martini said. “During the holidays, you can make your own gift baskets. “
She said they also have a program where people return vases and receive a discount on a future order.
“If someone brings their own vase, we can make arrangements,” Martini said. “Also, when we have flowers coming to the end of their lifecycle, we’ll post them here every week at a discounted rate for people to come and buy by stalk. We try to use everything we have.
She said the store is still a traditional florist, filling orders and delivering flowers, but that’s only part of the business.
“We tend to be more of a creative design-style store than a cookie-cutter store,” Martini said. “We are in a boutique space. We have wire services. We’re part of FTD and Teleflora, but that’s not really the core of our business. We are moving away from that.
She said there are retail items offered for sale, including candles, honey and candy. “Everything we have here is local or based in Ohio,” she said.
The company partners with Thorsen’s in Delaware for all of its factories, in addition to Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus and Red Twig Farms in Johnstown.
“We have others that we get zinnias and dahlias from,” Martini said. “We are increasingly trying to do something local rather than a wholesaler or directly from a producer who is elsewhere. “
Chandler, a 1981 Westerville North High School alumnus, said she grew up in a “jungle” because her late mother, Barbara Price, loved plants.
“I have been making silk for a very long time,” she said. “I have always liked the design aspect of flowers and plants.”
Chandler said his mother was his inspiration.
“She was always talking to them (the plants),” she said. “I name some of them. They hate to tell me when something’s gone. It’s like, ‘It’s okay, he can go.’ I’m getting attached a bit, but we’re here to sell them.
Chandler said she wants to provide customers with what’s relevant today.
“The older generation fully understands and gets what a florist offers,” she said. “We have a generation that just isn’t too savvy about it. They grew up with their influences – the grocery stores. We want to promote how wonderful the designed arrangements are for your home and how they can be updated to meet today’s trends.
Chandler said the biggest trend for 2022 is plants.
“We want people to know that we are offering this, and we can show them how beautiful the flowers are,” she said. “For people who love real flowers but feel bad because you take them out of nature and they only live so long, they will only live long in nature. So you might as well enjoy nature in your home.
Chandler said flowers have a way to enhance a home’s decor.
“We’re trying to make everyone understand that this is the modern age of floral,” she said. “It’s exciting and something to embrace.”
Martini said she and Chandler bought the store from Mike Dennis, who had owned it for about five years. Before Dennis, It was owned by the late Dorie Kish for 35 years.
“We think there have been four owners, we are the fourth,” she said. “Before it was a florist, it was two or three different things. It was a grocery store, and before that the building was a funeral home.
A recent Google review by Joshua Keller said, “They always take incredible care of me and usually I let them make the arrangements using their judgment and they still look great and last a very long time. In addition, very nice and kind on the phone and the delivery is clutch. Highly recommend! “
Another reviewer from David Bullivant said: “They did a great job with a last minute order. I wanted something delivered same day and was able to get a thoughtful arrangement, they gave me flexible budget options and ultimately I was happy with my experience. I would order again.
The store is open Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment for wedding and event consultations, personal Flower Bar experiences, Cultivate Flower Happiness Club memberships, and Blooms and Beverages events.
Normal business hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sunday. The website is westervilleflorist.net.