A flower shop and auto garage are an unlikely combination, but one that has proved to be a blooming success for Lenore Chartrand of Gimli.
When Lenore’s husband decided to make changes to the service station that had been owned by his family for 40 years, a flower shop wasn’t the first idea to come to mind. Dennis Firman decided to focus on the auto service side of business and step away from gas sales – the result was a large unused portion of his building.
The old adage “when one door closes, another one opens” was certainly true for Lenore who saw this as an opportunity to combine her passion for flowers and crafts in Heaven Scent Flowers & Gifts. Now, a picture perfect flower shop shares space with a traditional male haunt – an auto garage.
One week before Christmas 2003, Lenore opened her doors and was immediately embraced by her community who flocked to the shop. Unexpectedly, two days before opening, Lenore’s father became ill and sadly, the first floral arrangement she created was for his funeral. Given the delicacy of her inventory, Lenore had little choice but to open her doors during that difficult week. On Christmas Eve morning, she was staring at a cooler so full of flowers there wasn’t room for another blossom and wondering what she had gotten into. By closing time, the cooler was bare.
“It’s been like that ever since,” says Lenore. “People love to come into the store. I give them a cup of coffee, let them look around and not fret if they don’t buy anything. It’s not just about the money for me.”
Her philosophy about putting the customers first along with a fierce commitment to quality floral displays created from both traditional and exotic flowers compliments her range of unique local arts and crafts.
The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba, an organization dedicated to helping women interested in owning their own business, was one organization that assisted Lenore as she was preparing to open.
According to Mary Jane Loustel, CEO of the Centre, “Innovation and creativity are characteristics of the true entrepreneur. Rather than seeing a half-empty building Lenore Chartrand saw an opportunity to make her dream come true. Her indomitable spirit has made the business a success.”
An unexpected opportunity to cross market has also presented itself. Men often wander in the store and pick up flowers and gifts for their loved ones while they are waiting for their car to be repaired. “There are a lot of happy women in Gimli because of our location” jokes Lenore.Visit Website