The local florist melted… with chocolate!
Bern’s Flowers & Gifts boutique in Alliston, known as the ‘candy of Victoria Street’ for 40 years, takes pride in creating unique flower arrangements paired with decadent chocolates from their sister company, Belfry Chocolates.
Lachlan McGurk and his wife Sharon took over the store almost eight years ago and are the third owners. The store was started by a woman named Bernice, hence the name of the store.
The store offers an assortment of floral arrangements and gifts and is recognized as one of Canada’s Top 25 Florists for the past decade, ranking in the top 10 by Teleflora every year.
âWe were very lucky on the flower side,â admits Lachlan. “People look to flowers and chocolate for comfort and brightening up their place.”
McGurk’s part, they haven’t closed in a single day since the start of the pandemic and feel extremely lucky to be in a ‘booming’ industry where they can continue to deliver and offer curbside pickup. .
Both from the UK (Sharon is from England and Lachlan from Scotland), Sharon has been a florist all her life and learned all she knows about the industry from her parents who also owned a flower shop. at home. Sharon handles all of the store’s floral designs while Lachlan takes care of the corporate background.
In 2018 the McGurks took over a local chocolatier business that included all the recipes and training needed, and in January 2019 the new sister company was renamed ‘Belfry Chocolates’.
âI wanted to focus on Belgian chocolate,â Lachlan explained. “It’s the best!”
The couple say they found the name after Google searched famous landmarks in Belgium and came across the iconic belfry of Bruges, which inspired their logo design.
âIt was just perfect,â he adds. “We sell a lot of chocolates through ‘upgrades’ and all of our chocolate is handcrafted right here in the store.”
Lachlan adds that the store also does a lot of âbusiness-to-businessâ with other stores, including wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
âA specialty is to take ice wine from the vineyards and add it to our chocolates,â says Lachlan. âWe sell more chocolate than any other florist in Canada right now – we do a great job! “
Belfry Chocolates has also started offering ‘customer appreciation chocolates’ where their in-house chocolatiers create chocolate bars with a company logo crafted directly into the chocolate or make personalized chocolate treats as gifts for customers.
âIt’s growing pretty quickly,â he says, adding that they âremoved a barrierâ by bringing the cost of designing and producing the mold to the store. “We have evolved [the chocolate business] dramatically. “
The McGurks recently expanded both businesses and partnered with businesses and retailers, and share their goal of becoming Canada’s number one personalized chocolate maker.
âWe are very grateful to our loyal customers who continue to shop with us,â he adds.
Bern’s Flowers & Gifts and Belfry Chocolates have their own delivery drivers and serve a large area beyond Alliston including Innisfil, Bradford, Barrie and Orangeville.
To learn more about Bern’s Flowers & Gifts, go here.
To see the belfry chocolates, go here.