Endless Floral Possibilities Germinating in Chugiak
The European charm and easy elegance of hand-tied floral bouquets is coming to Chugiak.
“It is so simple,” Laura Simoncic, who is opening Chugiak Flowers right next door to the Chugiak Café in the classic red brick building off the Old Glenn Highway this coming Saturday, May 6, of the style as commonplace in Europe that is making its way to Alaska. “For Europeans, purchasing a hand-tied bouquet of flowers is part of their normal shopping routine: bread, milk and flowers. They bring it home and simply set it in the vase waiting on their table.”
American floral trends for cut flowers most often involve delivery from store to home in either a plastic-wrapped manner or in a vase, Simoncic, an FTD certified master designer with more than 40 years of experience.
The end result of this habit is best seen at local garage and yard sales where vase after vase is available for a low price.
“Everyone has a cupboard full of those plain, see-through vases,” Simoncic said with a knowing smile. “It is a bit of a waste.”
She would rather tie some raffia around a bunch of flowers for the purchaser to carry home with instructions to put the flowers in water in waiting vase.
Of course, her new shop does have a selection of vases. She knows customer will seek them and she will arrange fresh cut flowers in them while teaching her new customers about the European custom.
Locals get their first opportunity to rub shoulders with Simoncic on May 6 at Chugiak Flowers grand opening from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – business hours that coincide with the café next door owned by her brother, Trig Bjorklund.
Today and tomorrow, Simoncic receives her first delivery of fresh cut flowers direct from a floral warehouse broker in Anchorage. Expect to see several varieties of spring varieties: iris, tulips,
Her flower shop offers the traditional and well-sought mixed hanging baskets full of the hardy annuals that do well in chilly Alaskan springs, but with a very local twist: Rather than shipping the pre-made baskets in from the Lower 48, Simoncic purchased locally-grown annuals and prepped the baskets herself.
Aside from flowers, Simoncic’s new shop offers a unique collection of decorative butterflies.
She is a major lover of butterflies.
“They are free spirits,” she said. “Just like me.”
Simoncic hails from Cleveland. Her recent arrival in Chugiak comes with a bitter background: The death of her husband in March of this year.
Her brother told her to come to Alaska and stay with his family to open her own flower shop in the same building as the retro café beloved by locals and queried by tourists that opt for the Old Glenn Highway.
Simoncic said she would give the idea two years to bloom. She committed to running the flower shop for the warmer Alaskan months – May through October – for this year and 2018.
Her brother found her a gem of a floral cooler for the store and a long, two-tiered wooden floral stand reminiscent of the European floral markets. It sits just outside the store entry and will be chock full of bedding plants and other florals for the grand opening.
“Trig is really taking care of me,” she said with a smile.
A pair of neonish green chairs with big black splotches painted on them is placed just outside the front entrance as a way to greet customers on the other side of the store’s entrance.
“They are my happy chairs,” Simoncic said.
She invites customers to sit for a bit in the chairs just to relax and enjoy the flowers.
Soon, customers will be able to do just that with an espresso drink in hand. Bjorkland has plans to open a coffee house in the space between the café and the flower shop. The caveat is that entrance to the coffee shop is through his sister’s new enterprise thus providing a steady stream of potential customers to help his sister launch the new business.
Simoncic said she looks forward to meeting folks from the local community and to learning what their decorative and floral needs are.
She may offer classes on floral design or teach rock painting. She enjoys painting butterflies on plain flower pots.
There is a sign in her shop with the words, “It’s a new day today. Full of possibility.”
That is her mantra, Simoncic said.
That is me, she said. That is the new store: Chugiak Flowers.
“Full of possibility,” Simoncic said with yet another smile that might make a sunflower envious.
Editor’s Note: Chugiak Flowers grand opening is Sat., May 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mention the “ECHO News” for a complimentary flower courtesy of Simoncic.