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Young entrepreneur takes over Flowers North
Employee goes from part-timer to owner in two years

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An entrepreneur is taking over the 40-year-old Flowers North with new energy and ideas.

NNSL photo/graphic

Stacie Smith, new owner of Flowers North, is ready for the challenge of running a small business. She has some tricks up her sleeves for graduation season already. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

"I've always wanted to run my own business," said Stacie Smith, a lifelong Yellowknifer.

She said she likes working with flowers in part because it's not as chaotic as the day home she used to run.

"Flowers don't scream back at you," laughed Smith. "It's a nice transition."

Smith started at Flowers North in 2013 as a part-time employee. By mid-2014 she was manager and this April she will assume ownership.

Her entrepreneurial drive started when she was running her day home in 2010.

"My son was a year old," recalls Smith. "My sister and I started baking cakes on the side. From there I got into the flower shop and from there on in I thought I'd like to run this place - I've got some ideas for this place. It all starts with an idea."

And she has big ideas for the small store in Yellowknife Centre.

"I have plans on revamping the inside, personalizing it, painting the walls, putting some different shelving up and just offering a little bit different in terms of supplies," said Smith.

"I'm hoping to get into party supplies in here because it coincides with balloons and birthday cards and flowers - there's always some sort of event that goes with it. I've got some tricks up my sleeve for grad coming up."

Running a flower shop isn't totally laid back, though. Flowers have short shelf life and shipping to Yellowknife can involve some harrowing moments.

"This year was just a year of almost not getting my stuff," said Smith. "I had a supplier that didn't receive my fax I had sent off a month prior, so it was a mad dash trying to get anything."

Everything worked out by Valentine's Day, the busiest day of the year, she said.

"This Valentine's Day seemed to go by really well," said Smith, crediting the fact she had several employees to help out.

"It's a lot different when you have somebody brand new who doesn't know what's going on. I'm sure there are a lot of sore feet going on right now but by the end of the day people are going to be very happy."

Her cold season for sales is from September to the beginning of November and that's the time to clean up the store and get ready for Christmas. Smith said prices are comparable to southern locations and her shippers do a great job.

Forty years in business proves that flowers have a viable market in Yellowknife.

"There are only two shops here in town, so I've a 50/50 chance that somebody's going to come to me," said Smith. "It's a (well-known) name and we just want to keep it going. It's very important to keep that sort of heritage alive."

Smith has lots of regular customers, including one person who comes in almost every week for flowers. Her best sellers are consistently roses.

"It's the roses that sell, especially on Valentine's Day," said Smith. "Everybody loves a rose."

Former owner Barry Neary will be retiring to Summerland, B.C. He said Smith was a great employee and expected she will succeed as the shop's new owner.

"She's very good," said Neary. "She knows what she's doing and I think she'll be a natural. Some people you can just tell are going to be a natural - they can manage all the aspects of a little business and sales. I feel very confident she's going to do really well. I would like to see the store keep going because it's been here 40 years, but my time is done."

Smith admitted it's a little bit scary to take over the business.

"I have my moments of panic attacks," said Smith. "But I know at the end of the day that I'm going to be here, and as long as I'm here giving 100 per cent, you're going to have staff feed off that energy and they're going to fall in behind you."

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