by Dennis Dalman
Friends and business partners Jodi Wilken and Sue Mishow of Sartell are busy nearly ’round the clock, preparing their shop, “Enchanted Floral and Gifts,” for the spring-and-summer season.
However, sometimes they get a sinking feeling their dream shop might be on a list of doom — the list of floral shops that have closed in Sartell. So far, three such shops have closed in just the past few years: Sartell Floral and Gift, Rosewood Nursery and Floral, and Daisy A Day.
Wilken and Mishow opened their shop on Christmas week of last year. Since then they have been crestfallen and disappointed that people just don’t seem to be aware of their business, which is located with The Pantry, another gift shop in Rolling Green mall just east of the intersection of Pinecone Road and 2nd Street S.
Wilken said she suspects the lack of business could be a sluggish economy or people who just don’t shop locally — or probably a mixture of both. A third reason is people are just not aware of the relatively new shop. At one time, she and Mishow put up a temporary sign by the road.
“Wouldn’t you know it was foggy for days when the sign was out there,” Wilken said, groaning and chuckling at the same time.
When a previous floral shop, Sartell Floral & Gift, closed, its owner Barb Ringstrom, released a press release urging Sartell residents to shop locally — otherwise more businesses would end up closing. Sartell Floral was located in Rolling Green mall, the same place as Enchanted Floral and Gifts.
Wilken said it’s probably true when times are tight, people cut back on what they consider “luxury” purchases, such as flowers and novelty gifts. While she understands that, she said she thinks it’s a shame more people don’t treat themselves, at least occasionally, to treats that brighten up life.
Recently, a woman whose grandmother had just died was in the shop. She was devastated by the death of her beloved grandmother. Wilken gave her an ultra-fragrant freesia flower with a water capsule on the stem end to keep if fresh all day. Wilken told her she should hold that flower all day and smell it now and then, that it would help comfort her. The woman’s eyes sparkled with wonder; she smiled; thanked Wilken and walked out of the store as if on air.
From the very beginning, in their plans for their dream shop, Mishow and Wilken vowed to make their business as truly local as possible. This summer, they are going to sell fresh flowers, greens and herbs from their own large at-home gardens; they are going to shop for locally grown flowers and greenery at local farmers’ markets; they are even choosing some additions from the woods. Recently, Wilken picked a bunch of pussy-willows in a wooded area to use in her floral arrangements.
They order their other flowers from Len Busch greenhouses in Plymouth, including tulips, lilies, roses and just about every flower imaginable.
What is frustrating, Wilken said, is she and Mishow have gone the extra mile, week after week, to please prospective customers and yet too many people seem to be unaware of their existence, despite extensive advertising and both women having attended business expos in St. Cloud and Sartell. They have given away hundreds of single roses with their business cards attached. The two women are also attending classes at Len Busch greenhouses in Plymouth on prom corsages and wedding bouquets. The two women emphasize personalized service and like nothing better than to listen to a customer’s needs and then design the perfect fit for those needs.
“We’re trying to claw our way into the community, but it seems nobody’s noticing us,” Wilken said “We love the community, and we want the community to love us back. We’re trying to stay on top and hoping the economy gets better. We’ve all got to support our own community.”
Spring, Wilken said, is a sign of hope. In the floral shop, daffodils are in full bloom. She and Mishow are working on prom orders, some wedding arrangements and Mother’s Day is just around the bend.
“We have so many new things,” Wilken said. “Actual bird houses in the shape of birds, stepping stones, umbrellas that unfold that look like flowers, a Teddy Bear line, bulb gardens, daffodils blooming like crazy. We wish people would stop in and enjoy what we have, even if they don’t buy anything. We’re also good at designing indoors and outdoors — for example for parties. When will people notice us?”
Wilken’s “Shop Local” message to prospective customers is, “Come on in and find spring!”