There are a lot of changes going on at Garland Nursery. All good, I hope. Some are small and some are large. We hope that you, our customers and friends are happy with those changes. The change I’d like to highlight today is the relocation of The White Rose Custom Floral Design into the barn at Garland Nursery.
When Jim Somppii and Jim Schulte, co-owners of The White Rose decided it was time to close up shop at the downtown Albany location they had been in for over 10 years, they decided to visit Garland Nursery. It just happened that it was one of our customer appreciation days. Both Jims have been longtime customers of Garland Nursery and signed up for our rewards program early on. It was July and it was hot but they felt very relaxed as they wandered through the nursery. At that time they weren’t sure where they were going to relocate, they just knew it was time to move on. As they made their way around the grounds, they walked through the courtyard area next to Wee Tree bonsai and said to one another, “This would be a great place for a flower shop!”
The strangest part of the whole story is that they did not approach us about moving in here at the nursery. They started the process of selling down on stock, packing and advertising that they were closing their downtown Albany location. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and there is often divine guidance and direction. When my sister, Erica received their e-mail about the store closing, she thought we should both go see what they were selling and talk to them. So we set a time to meet at their store. Up to this point there was no thought in either of our heads about asking them if they’d like to move in with us. That idea came from a third Jim, Erica’s new husband. Cue the proverbial light bulb. What a great idea, we thought. But would they really want to relocate here? They were very intrigued by the idea and we met to discuss possibilities. When we met again to discuss particulars, I took it as a very good sign that Jim Schulte brought an amazingly delicious sour cream chocolate cake. We agreed on the particulars and began to remodel a small portion of the barn.
As is the way with most remodeling and change, it took longer than we projected. They are up and running now and doing what they do best, creating beauty out of flowers. Jim Somppi started The White Rose Custom Floral Design on October 22, 1983 but that isn’t the beginning of the story. At age 11 he attended a Junior Gardener’s Club sponsored by the Corvallis Evening Garden Club. He wanted to learn more about raising flowers. In the third month he attended, the guest speaker taught the basics of flower arranging. He embraced this skill, entered an arrangement in competition, took third place and was immediately hooked. He had found his passion in life. So in 1983 Jim launched his business out of his garage. In the very early 90’s he moved the business into the Cannery Mall in Corvallis. It was in that location that he hired Jim Schulte. Jim Schulte previously worked at Wah Chang as a barrel grab driver. Driving large machinery with strong, curving forks is not what immediately comes to mind when you meet him. Especially after you’ve tasted his sour cream chocolate cake. After they started working together they found out they are actually related. Their mothers were first cousins.
Jim Somppi, the originator specializes in weddings and everything else that nobody else wants to do. Also, he teaches classes through LBCC. This fall he has been teaching a 10 week course on Floral Design. For winter term he’s changing it up. He will be teaching 3 3 week classes, so the investment of time is shorter. He is a fabulous speaker. He has given presentations several times at Garland Nursery. We’ve known Jim and his family for a long time. As he and I were discussing the business history today, he wanted to make sure to point out that the first person to teach him to make a hand-tied bow was my mom, Sandra Powell, right there in the barn at Garland Nursery. I should also mention that the original Jim also bakes delicious cookies. We’re getting a little spoiled!
Jim Schulte as I shared earlier had a different background until he got into the florist trade. Now he applies his flower arranging expertise to funeral arrangements and wild and exotic floral arrangements. He was most delighted to learn that the tropical flowers (Orchids, Anthuriums and others) had arrived today. I can’t wait to see what he creates.
We are celebrating The White Rose’s “Fresh Beginnings” at Garland Nursery this Saturday, November 1st from 10am to 3pm. If you don’t know them, take this opportunity to come in and meet them. If you are loyal customers, stop by to say hi. They will be doing floral arranging demonstrations. We’ll be pulling names for door prizes. And there will be cake. Unfortunately, it’s not sour cream chocolate cake but it will be delicious anyway! Hope to see you this Saturday.