Article By: Tula Mason
Photos By: Josh Triggs
With the arrival of spring just around the corner and summer not far behind that, our thoughts turn to all of the beautiful foliage and bright, colorful flowers that come along with these warmer seasons. The promises of the sunshine and the aromatic smells and wonderful sights to come tell us that it’s time for those highly anticipated spring and summer weddings to begin. With this in mind a good florist is a must. With many local flower shops to choose from in the Martinsburg, WV area, it may seem a bit overwhelming trying to decide which one would best fit your needs. Please allow me to give you my two cents on this matter based on my own personal experience. I am of the opinion that you just can’t go wrong with Bells & Bows located at 118 W Martin Street in downtown Martinsburg, WV.
This well established fl oral business is so much more than just a flower shop but also the perfect place to find all matter of charming gifts and holiday accessories for your home as well.
Bells & Bows has been in business since 1984 and was originally owned by an investor from out of town that actually knew very little about running a flower shop let alone creating flower arrangements. For this reason he called upon the fl oral expertise of Charles Spalding to manage the business. As you can imagine, this entailed much more than simply arranging flowers. After all with his 25 years of full-time experience at a florist shop in Virginia, that just so happened to be owned and operated by his in-laws at the time, he was the perfect choice. Charlie’s mother and father in-law taught him all of the ins and outs of the fl oral business including the importance of treating customers like family. Charlie, as he is more widely known to his customers and friends, did not attend design school but rather learned by experience instead. At any rate, he ultimately moved to West Virginia to manage Bells & Bows that was located in a small strip mall on Rock Cliff Drive at the time, bringing with him everything he had learned over the years.
Charlie began his lifetime work in the fl oral industry in 1967 because he found out that he had a love for flowers and gardening at a young age. In the beginning he worked at the above mentioned family florist shop on a part-time basis while also working part-time at the public library as well. After a time he realized that his love of flowers and fl oral design outweighed his love of books and so he went to work for the flower shop full-time. It would be his many years of experience that he acquired while working in the city that would prepare him to not only successfully manage Bells & Bows, but also do so as if it was his own.
The business thrived under Charlie’s management and of course he loved every minute of it. When the original owner decided to sell this successful business, Charlie naturally jumped at the chance to purchase it and became the owner in 2002. There was a period of a year and a half when he worked for a friend who owned a catering business while sorting out the details of the transaction. While working there he learned even more about design, handling parties both large and small, along with many of the finer points of business ownership as well.
As Charlie says, “everything happens for a reason,” right down to the need to move to its current location on West Martin Street. This change of location was necessitated by the sale of the strip mall where it was originally located but certainly did nothing to hamper the success or popularity of Bells & Bows in any way. In fact I would have to say that the historical 100-year-old building just adds to the charm of the flower shop.
There really aren’t enough words to describe the beautiful, comforting, charms of the shop. From the moment you walk through the door of this two-story red brick building there is a feeling of calm that washes over you. One look around this beautifully appointed establishment and you just couldn’t help but fall in love with it. It is truly a feast for the eyes that makes you hunger for more as you take a peak around the corner to see what comes next. Oh and I must tell you that you are all in for a treat, there seems to be no-end to the wonderful selection of plants, silk arrangements, gifts and trinkets that can be found at Bells & Bows. The pleasant surprises just coming everywhere you look. No matter what time of year you stop in to visit the shop will be ornately, yet tastefully decorated in all of the wonder of that particular season. Somehow the décor always manages to stay true to the buildings historic architecture while still managing to keep things classic and up-to-date at the same time. They also boast an endless supply of fresh flowers and plants on hand which are housed in the huge walk-in cooler located at the rear of the shop in close proximity to the large design area. This allows them to always be equipped to handle those last minute orders and especially large orders with ease.
The staff at Bells & Bows are described by Charlie has being attentive, talented, and caring, each one bringing something unique and special to the business. The staff is comprised of three in-store staff members who each possess a true gift of fl oral arranging and design, and three delivery staff who are very prompt and caring in their own right. As for Charlie, he puts his heart and soul into every arrangement he creates no matter the amount of money spent or the occasion it’s for. Speaking of expense, he is careful to keep the pricing in the median price and up making it affordable for everyone. Bells & Bows delivers six days a week all over the Eastern Panhandle of WV.
Specializing in weddings and parties in particular, every event is treated with the same level of expertise no matter how big or small. Obviously not all occasions are happy ones, as you can surmise many area families order funeral flowers from the florist shop. Charlie and his staff handle these flower orders as if they were for their own family in every way possible, always willing to lend a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on.
The customer always comes first at Bells & Bows no matter what. Charlie and his staff are happy to spend as much time as you need to make sure that your thoughts, tastes, and needs are discussed to ensure that you receive an arrangement that is both unique and original to you as well as the recipient. It is really no wonder that they have a long line of repeat, loyal customers that span generations in any one family. It should come as no great surprise that I myself am a customer and have always been more than pleased with both the personal service that I have received as well as the lovely, perfectly designed arrangements also. It is obvious that Charlie and his staff put their heart and soul into everything they do. This giving attitude also reaches out to the community and the other florist in the area. As Charlie puts it, he has a friendly and supportive relationship with his “fellow competitors” and participates in most community events and causes.
It seems like there is always an occasion on the horizon that calls for flowers or a potted plant of some kind. Take it from someone who knows and go see the kindhearted, talented staff at Bells & Bows.
No question you will find the service there to be impeccable and the quality of the arrangements flawless. Although they are a cohesive group of hard-working professionals who know their craft, they also understand the needs of people equally well. The love and support that is so freely given to everyone who walks through the door is refreshing to say the least. I couldn’t possibly say it better than Charlie himself who says “it’s not always about business and flowers.”