At the bottom of a hill, a mile to the north of my home, before the train tracks and just passed the library, sits an empty storefront. The words “Blossoms Flowers” can faintly be made out above the door, the faded negative of a sign that no longer hangs.
I haven’t the first clue about the flower industry. I know how to order them online and have seen flower shops, but I don’t know if there is a Big Flower that has been systemically putting all of the mom and pop flower stores out of business.
I suppose there is a Big Flower; there’s a Big Everything: Big Media, Big Union, Big Banks, Big Business, Big Oil. I also suppose that’s the natural way of things. I’m not really picky about the flowers I buy. I tend to buy them because I’m in trouble, it’s a birthday/Mother’s Day, or as a practical joke. If I buy them at the grocery store or Blossoms Flowers, I won’t know the difference. Flowers aren’t a regular every day purchase, I don’t think. In that case I contribute to the death of the everyday, independent, flower shop. And like so many other horrors of history, I do it without thinking twice.
Baked goods, restaurants, even some furniture stores, all have a niche market that can keep them viable against the Invisible Hand. But a flower shop? I don’t know.
I think about who started Blossoms Flowers. It’s not as if you hear on the news about the booming flower trade, so it must have been someone who loved flowers. There are plenty of businesses people start solely so they can make money – I doubt anyone grows up loving to recycle trash. However, you start a business dedicated to cultivating and arranging flowers because that’s your passion in life.
I pretend it’s someone like my mother: a sweet woman who just likes flowers and wants to share her love. She’d get excited when a nervous teenage boy came in, unsure of what to buy to impress a girl; she’d later have flashbacks of romance when that boy grew and came back to buy a boutonnière for his wedding. That was her contribution to the world. She didn’t cure cancer or free slaves or win wars, instead she made the mundane more colorful; life was more pleasant for at least one person because she opened her store. A rose standing amidst the weeds.
Now it’s gone. There stands a monument to a dead dream.
Or maybe not! Maybe the business grew so big it had to expand and thus moved. How wonderful that would be, to see a dream bloom beyond what was initially imagined. Something Good springing forth from the Drab.
She’d nervously walk into a bank and what would she see? That same boy, now a loan officer, he remembering her and she him. They both would have had a lifetime of differences and yet the path led them back to one another. An imperfect circle, but a circle nonetheless. Where she’d helped his dreams now he’d be there to help hers. They’d go over paperwork, he’d make a penny stretch a bit here and there, help her cross every T, and voila!, she had a new location. Her single flower shop now a bouquet!
Fall and The Winter will come for her. And him. The store might still be running but would it be the same? Her kids might keep it up, or have sold it, just because it was making money, but it wouldn’t be the same store without her. The address changes, a facade is updated, the flowers come and go, but she’s the constant. The store doesn’t exist, she does. With her goes it.
But another store and another dream will sprout. Someone else will decide to take a risk and live in a dream. The odds will be against them; that’s what makes the success so sweetly foreign and the pain so bitterly familiar.
That new person will be there to help someone who will help someone who will help that necessary person. Maybe it’ll be cupcakes or comic books or antique watch repairs. It’ll make someone’s day a little easier, a little happier, and that’s enough. Can’t fix yesterday, won’t be there tomorrow, might as well try to help someone today.
Stop and smell the roses. They’ll be there forever. We won’t.
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