Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series about iconic Westerville businesses that are featured monthly.
The goal for 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 that we do, whether it be flowers or giving,” said co-owner Candice Martini. “That’s why our tagline is cultivate flower happiness.”
Martini, 49, of Worthington purchased the shop with friend Michelle Chandler, 59, of Dublin in January 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic took hold.
When the mandatory shutdown occurred the following month, Martini said, they took the opportunity to revamp the front of the store.
“We set out not to be your traditional florist,” she said. “We want to be educational and make sure people understand about flowers.
“If someone is looking for something, we can order them. Just because we may not have something in the store today doesn’t mean we can’t get it for you. People can go anywhere to get flowers. But if you’re getting flowers in a supermarket type of environment versus direct from a farm, which is where we’re getting them from, it makes a big difference.”
Martini, whose grandmother Dee DeLuca inspired her appreciation for flowers, said her background is in special events.
She said she and Chandler want to bring experience-based floral events to 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 about flowers and make it an experience for them,” Martini said. “That’s why we started the Flower Bar, where they could come and choose flowers and build their own bouquets. We do events here that are called Build Your Own Bouquet (BYOB) and Blooms and Beverages events, where we actually teach the art of flower arranging.”
During the spring and summer, she said, a tent will be set up behind the store for special events, as space inside the shop is limited.
“We do most of our events off site,” Martini said. “During the holidays, you can build your own gift baskets.”
She said they also offer a program in which people return vases and receive a discount off a future order.
“If somebody brings their own vase in, we can do arrangements,” Martini said. “Also, when we have flowers that are getting towards the end of their life cycle, we’ll actually put them out here weekly at a major discounted rate for people to come in and buy them by the stem. We try to use every single thing we have.”
She said the shop 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-type shop rather than a cookie-cutter shop,” Martini said. “We’re in a boutique space. We do have wire services. We’re part of FTD and Teleflora, but that’s not really the core of our business. We’re transitioning away from that.”
She said retail items are offered for sale, including candles, honey and candy buckeyes. “Everything we have here is local or Ohio based,” she said.
The business partners with Thorsen’s in Delaware for all its plants, in addition to Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus and Red Twig Farms in Johnstown.
“We have others we get zinnias and dahlias from,” Martini said. “We’re trying more and more to do local based versus through the wholesaler or direct from a grower that’s elsewhere.”
Chandler, a 1981 Westerville North High School alumna, said she grew up in a “jungle” because her late mother, Barbara Price, loved plants.
“I’ve done silks for a really long time,” she said. “I always loved the design aspect of flowers and plants.”
Chandler said her mom is her inspiration.
“She always talked to them (plants),” she said. “I do name certain ones. They hate to tell me when something is gone. It’s like, ‘It’s OK, he can go.’ I get kind of attached, but we’re here to sell them.”
Chandler said she wants to provide customers with what’s relevant to today.
“The older generation totally understands and gets what a florist offers,” she said. “We have a generation that just isn’t too savvy about that. They’ve grown up with their influences – grocery stores. We want to promote how wonderful 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 we offer that, and we can show them how beautiful the flowers are,” she said. “For the people who love real flowers but feel bad because you take them out of nature and they only live so long, they’re only going to live that long in nature. So you might as well enjoy nature in your home.”
Chandler said flowers have a way of enhancing a home’s décor.
“We’re trying to just let everyone understand this is the modern day of floral,” she said. “It’s exciting and something to embrace.”
Martini said she and Chandler purchased the shop from Mike Dennis, who owned it for about five years. Prior to Dennis, it was owned by the late Dorie Kish for 35 years.
“We believe there have been four owners, with us being the fourth,” she said. “Before it was a florist, it was a couple different things. It was a feed 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 put together the arrangements using their judgement and they are always beautiful and last a really long time. Also, very nice and personable on the phone and delivery is clutch. Highly recommend!”
Another review by 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 put together, 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 subscriptions and Blooms and Beverages events.
Regular business hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. The website is westervilleflorist.net.