Fredericton flower shop thrives after long journey through pandemic – New Brunswick
Inside Hanson Road Flower Co., there is a small, tidy wagon near the door.
It’s the same wagon owner Riannon McVey when she and her sisters were picking wildflowers with their mother – naturally on Hanson Road, near St. Stephen, NB
Her passion for flowers has always been there, she says, but it took her a while to start making them her main job.
“I became really obsessed with flowers and it all came crashing back to me about how much I always loved flowers as a kid and, you know, the kind of peace they brought me,” said she said in an interview on Saturday.
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She traveled to Australia to attend floral design school, thinking she would never return to New Brunswick.
“I spent time in Asia and then came back to New Brunswick,” she said. “I got a little six-foot folding table and the market on the north side and sold my flowers there.”
In 2020, however, this market closed down permanently due to the coronavirus pandemic. McVey has moved her business into her home – dedicating a room to all things floral.
“The demand for flowers hasn’t stopped,” she said. “So I was buying flowers and selling them in my spare room in my apartment.”
She even opened an Instagram account to speed up her business and connect with customers. She said she makes every interaction personal.
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For McVey, the pandemic has shown him that people are looking for a small glimmer of hope and happiness, but also a way to stay connected to each other.
Flowers do the trick.
“It wasn’t like one person behind the counter, it was like I was talking to another person who was also alone in their house and wanted to talk about flowers and place an order,” she said. “And being like, ‘I miss my sister so much, she’s going to love this, it’ll be like she’s getting a visit from me in the form of flowers since we can’t see each other.'”
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For her, plants and flowers represent life and growth and along with isolation these things make people feel better.
Over time, demand has not slowed down. McVey said they needed to find a storefront — and did so on Brunswick Street — that was only about 650 square feet.
“We spent almost two years there in that little shop,” she said. “We passed it, but we held on and it was lovely and we had roadies accompanying us on those market days.”
Now she’s on King Street and things are busy.
‘Everyone is invited’
On Friday, McVey ran out of fresh flowers as she filled orders for Mother’s Day but also for events taking place in different parts of town over the weekend.
“It’s really, really good,” she said. “It’s been a few months of hard work, so I’m trying to keep the emotions low.”
On Saturday, there was a steady stream of customers, many of whom McVey was able to remember or even call out by name.
“It really feels good. Especially when I see customers come in and literally burst into tears of happiness to see how far it’s going.
But McVey also gives back – there’s a wall called Grow Your Own Way – which has planters where people can either bring a plant or buy one and all proceeds go to help women’s shelters and resources .
McVey said when people come to the store, she hopes they find comfort in the flowers and plants as she has over the years.
“We also met a lot of new people,” she said. “It’s really special. It feels like there’s a Hanson Road Club and everyone is invited.
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