EDITOR’S NOTE: The following, submitted by Gwen Zwicker, is part of an ongoing monthly series.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – Walking into Blooms is like wandering into an enchanted garden. Everywhere you look, there’s more to see – plants of all kinds, flowers, jewellery, cushions, wall hooks, door knobs, stuffed animals, market bags, giftware of every description and tiny felt mice hanging on a tree.
When the previous owners of The Crofter decided to sell the flower part of their business, Haidee Robertson and Trudy Wood took it on. They are both very creative and entrepreneurial people.
Trudy says, “Haidee started her own business downtown right out of high school. That business, Over the Rainbow, thrived until Haidee decided to go to nursing school.”
How did Trudy become a co-owner of Blooms?
“Haidee and I used to walk in the evenings and she talked me into it,” she says.
Haidee has also been a part of the Sackville and Dieppe Farmers’ Markets over the years.
She says, “It seemed like a natural extension of what we were doing.”
Having outgrown their space on Bridge Street by 2012, Haidee and Trudy purchased their current space. They started out primarily selling flowers and all arrangements for special occasions like weddings, proms and so on. From there, they added some giftware to fill their larger space and make it look more inviting.
There was a student rental apartment upstairs, which the ladies maintained for a few years. Now they have launched into a new arm of their business with the upstairs space becoming an AirBNB rental, complete with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. They will welcome their first visitors this month. Says Haidee, “When the space is not being rented by visitors to Sackville, we plan to host classes and workshops. There is already a Garden Club coming from Saint John to tour. We will be doing a workshop with them.”
Although Trudy is retired, Haidee still works full-time for Extra Mural. They both readily admit that they have a lot of fun with their business but that it is often unpredictable. For instance, for occasions like funerals, they are often working very late into the evenings. Mother’s Day is also a very busy time for them, as is high school prom, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“With Mother’s Day so close to Convocation, it is often exhausting,” says Haidee, “but we love our work and that’s what keeps us going. Days like those and Prom day are fun because all of our staff is here working together.”
Blooms currently employs six part-time staff as well as family and friends who help out when needed. Almost half of their flower business is Mount Allison related.
Haidee says that the day-to-day flower business has seen a decline recently, so they have been doing more specialty work like weddings etc. In August 2018, Blooms will prepare flowers for one to three weddings every weekend.
Trudy says, “We will also do on-site decorating with things like centrepieces, flowers on the pews and so on.”
The ladies grow a 1-acre cutting garden, which yields fresh local flowers from July through Thanksgiving.
Have there been challenges?
“Definitely,” says Haidee as they both chuckle. “We, like many others, are a small business in a small town. It’s always a challenge to keep your business viable, but we are very creative people and always have new ideas to think about.”
Trudy adds, “If you want to remain in business, you have to diversify.”
“When projects like the Bridge Street reconstruction happen, that changes people’s shopping habits. In terms of having people shop locally, it’s hard to get them to change their habits back,” says Haidee. “Additionally, you have to be cognizant of what you sell in your business. Two shops selling the same product may have a negative effect on each other. I think we all need to have a sense of what effect our businesses have on each other, especially in a small town.”
“Without the Mount Allison students, summer becomes our downtown merchants’ slow time. I think we have the potential to develop more tourism-related business in town. We have a wonderful tourist bureau which is staffed during the summer months by students and this could be a way to direct more tourists to the downtown,” says Haidee. “Better signage on the highway directing tourists to the Waterfowl Park and small signs throughout the Waterfowl Park pointing out restaurants, shops and features of the town may help to keep tourists in town for a meal and to stop into some shops.”
The spirit of this inviting shop is a reflection of Haidee and Trudy’s personalities and creativity.
Haidee says, “We could not have been successful this long without the support of our families, our friends and all those who have walked through our doors.”
And as for the co-partners? They’re still friends after eight years, they say.
Blooms is located at 24 York Street in Sackville. Their hours are: Monday to Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday 12 noon-5 p.m. They can be contacted by phone at 506-536-1272 or messaged at m.me/sackvilleblooms.