by M.T. Decker
Talking to Stephanie Tierney of Winchester Floral, you soon realize that the business is about a lot more than flowers. It’s about art and soul.
Winchester Floral first opened in 1985 and began building a reputation as one of the premier florists in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, being voted “Best Florist in the Valley” for two years running.
Located at 1939 Valley Avenue in Winchester Virginia, Winchester Floral is family owned and operated.
Stephanie started working at Winchester Floral in the early ’90s, and has owned the store for the last five years.
Everything she knows about flowers and flower arranging, she’s learned from experience. The original owner of Winchester Floral had grown up in the floral business in New England and passed her knowledge on to Stephanie.
One of the things Stephanie loves about the business is the fact that she has been a part of people’s lives.
“Over the years, I’ve seen children who would come in with their parents – and now we’re doing flowers for their prom, bouquets and centerpieces for their weddings…”
Its one of the many things Stephanie loves about her business: being a part of life moments for their customers.
While she loves working on Wedding bouquets and centerpieces, Stephanie admits it’s a lot of work.
“But it’s pretty awesome,” Stephanie assured me. “We get so many people complimenting the flowers – people just call to say thank you.”
There are other life moments that Winchester Floral is a part of – when people are ill or on the mend. They work hard to make sure that the bouquet or gift basket are designed specifically for the recipient.
“We do baskets for people that we fill with snacks, and magazines. We did one basket for a lady who loved crossword puzzles,” Stephanie told me.
They’ve also created arrangements for funerals, customized to honor both the people who have passed and their families.
“We had one funeral,” Stephanie told me as she remembered the arrangements with a somber pride. “The man had been a softball coach. We incorporated that into the arrangement.”
By adding a softball, a glove, and a hat to the arrangement the staff at Winchester Floral created something special for the family.
Stephanie loves going that extra step to make sure that the flowers have that personal touch.
When they make plant gardens, Winchester Floral usually make them with a person in mind, but they work to make sure they always have something on site for people who come in and need something right away.
“Dish gardens make a great gift,” Stephanie points out, and I can remember going to the florist with my mother and falling in love with the carefully arranged plants.
“Even for a funeral,” Stephanie pointed out. “The family can keep it as a memory garden.”
Talking to Stephanie, it’s clear she loves what she does and the creativity involved with creating what amounts to sculptures in flowers.
She loves taking what people imagine, building on them and making their dreams come to life.
“It’s a fun shop with a lot of fun. We’ve got a great staff, and it’s not uncommon for our customers to send notes thanking one of the staff members for their help.”
The creativity isn’t limited to flowers and gifts – Stephanie’s husband works on their website, which is updated regularly. These updates mean that the pictures you see on the site are of actual flower arrangements made at Winchester Floral rather than stock photos.
When you order directly from Winchester Floral, what you see is what they arrange.
“When you order through FTD, or 1-800-Flowers or Teleflorist, people often comment that their flowers looked nothing like the pictures on the company site. they ordered.”
The reason behind this is the fact that these sites primarily broker your order to local florists for delivery, and the pictures are not what the florist goes by. They take the order, but like any broker- the company takes out their percentage, but the flowers that are delivered are based on the amount that the actual florist receives. The company you order through is taking a 20 even 30 percent off the top, meaning that the florist bases the bouquet on the money they earn.
“If you want to send flowers,” Stephanie recommends. “Order from a local florist.”
By ordering from a local florist, the flowers you send will be closer to what you wanted because when the local florist will either create the bouquet you want or, if you’re ordering for someone out of town, the local florist will pass the order on to a florist that is local to the recpient. They may send the order to a florist in the area of delivery, but they research the florists and only take out a small fee, rather than the 20-30% that other services charge.
“Always go local,” Stephanie advised.
To learn more about the service and quality Winchester Floral is known for, you need to look no further than yelp to see that customers love the work that Winchester Floral provides.
One satisfied customer wrote: “I have ordered all my flowers from Winchester Floral to always be pleased. I have made some special request to always be accommodated by staff. On several occasions I have ordered from pics shown of arrangements on-line to be surprised by how they are even prettier in person.”
Other customers talk about how the staff works with them and is focused on getting them what they want without rushing them or pressuring them into something that isn’t what they want and almost to a one, they are always pleased with not only the arrangements themselves but with the customer service provided by Winchester Floral.
Many comments focus on how the staff was able to take their descriptions and sketches of what they wanted and translate them into works of art.
One delighted customer shared the following:
“I contacted Stephanie at Winchester Floral as a bride living in California and planning a wedding in Winchester. Since I was unable to meet vendors before hiring them I was over the moon to talk to Stephanie and feel comfortable about it after one phone call…I just knew! We ended up getting together a couple months later during my trip to the east coast, we sat down for about an hour and we went over pictures of flower arrangements I liked and talked about my fiancé and I and our “love story”. …I was so surprised that they were able to take my “descriptions” and visions, turning them into exactly what I wanted. It was elegant and beautiful. I couldn’t imagine anything better. Thank you so much for helping create my perfect day!”
This is another part of the job that makes Stephanie pleased with what she does – She is not only a part of people’s life events, she and her staff help make them that much more memorable.
So, whether you’re looking for flowers for a special someone or flower arrangements for a special occasion, Winchester floral will take heart and soul and turn it into art and soul.