By Robert Mackenzie
Published July 11 2017
Country Rose Garden Centre increased their stock of red and white flowers this year ahead of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations all while the store celebrated a big birthday of its own.
Country Rose has now been providing the county with flowers for 30 years after opening in 1987 under the ownership of Brenda Ripley-Petrow.
Store manager Joanne Nichols says the connections they’ve made with customers over the years has helped the shop stay in business. “We’re emotionally involved with everyone because it’s an emotional business” Nichols said. She explained that customers are coming to them at emotional points in their lives whether it be for an upcoming wedding or funeral.
Nichols has been working there since 1987 about two months after Ripley-Petrow opened the store. “It’s a great place to work. The beauty is you can go in and outside all the time you’re not stuck at a desk” Nichols said.
In that time she has seen the store go through a few transformations. Originally there were two Country Rose locations: the garden centre was on Wallings Road while the flower shop was on Highland Street where the Wind in the Willows Spa currently operates. After about three years Country Rose merged the two stores to their location on the corner of 21 and Industrial Road where they’ve been ever since.
Greenhouse co-ordinator Kim Pockett who’s worked at the store for more than 25 years describes the atmosphere there as being like the show Cheers because of the unique characters always coming into the store. “People have left lasting impressions” Pockett said.
She adds that the store and its atmosphere has remained pretty much the same since Joan and Art Ward bought it in 2002 shortly after Ripley-Petrow died. The Wards had a relationship and familiarity with Country Rose before they bought it; Ripley-Petrow worked at the Wigamog Resort which the Wards owned before she opened the store. Nichols says the Wards wanted to keep the Country Rose going as a tribute to Ripley-Petrow.
While the store has kept its tradition over the past 30 years it’s still adapting to the times. Pockett says Telaflora – a service that lets customers view and purchase flowers online – has helped them keep up with contemporary business although Nichols says they still prefer to deal with customers in person or by phone.
Country Rose has also benefited from recent movements favouring organics and native planting. Nichols says they’ve always focused on organic plants and trying to take chemicals off of the market. Pockett adds that they’ve also always carried plants native to the area like dogwood and sweetgale which can help preserve local shorelines when they’re planted.
But most important Pockett believes what has kept the store running for 30 years is “having genuine care about our product and being happy to supply it to people we love.”