WINDSOR — Diane Epstein was in her florist shop in the historic Windsor House on Tuesday, July 19, working on a special arrangement for three children who had come in with a parent to buy flowers for a family member. She invited them over to her cooler full of brightly-colored flowers to pick out their favorites for a bouquet.
Diane and her husband Brad Epstein completed the purchase of Sugarbush Florist on Saturday, June 30, and officially opened the doors as the shop’s new owners on July 1.
“We’re a small family from Windsor,” she said. “I love it here. The residents are very dedicated to their family-owned businesses.”
The Epsteins have two children, Kayty, 14, and Josh, 12. They live in Brad’s childhood home, she said. When they purchased the business from Heather White and Chris Gould, they became the fourth owners of Sugarbush Florist, which has been in operation for 37 years, she said.
“I started making cakes and catering 10 or 12 years ago and I’ve enjoyed that, so that’s what I was going to do when I retired,” Diane said.
But when the floral business came up for sale, “it was a no-brainer,” she said. She knew her cake decorating experience would transfer well to floral designs and arranging colors that work well with one another, she said.
The family has lived in Windsor for six years. Diane worked in retail for more than 20 years and in office management at Dartmouth College, from which she recently retired, for about 30 years. She runs the shop full time while Brad continues to work full time with the Vermont Department of Public Safety. He assists at the shop on nights and weekends.
Longtime family friend John MacDonald of Springfield will also work some afternoons making deliveries, greeting customers and introducing a variety of plants for their customers, according to Epstein.
The Epsteins have made some changes to the shop, which will remain at 54 Main St. in Suite 103. The layout has changed, with a work counter moved to an area in front of the flower coolers, and Diane has created a new retail space and a consultation area with a table and chairs where clients can discuss floral needs.
Customers have been stopping in for wedding consultations and just to “check it out” since the couple took ownership, she said. At this time, the florist shop already has two weddings on the books, and possibly a third, and the shop offers funeral service arrangements. It also has a wide variety of roses, lilies, carnations, hydrangeas, snapdragons and other varieties, and live flowering or non-flowering plants for any occasion.
“We’re going to keep the cooler stocked,” she said.
She also plans to carry flower baskets, such as those now decorating the Windsor House building’s wide front porch, all summer.
She can help clients with suggestions, such as “I’m sorry” or “Get well” flowers, she said. She also plans to touch base with local growers at farmers’ markets to bring in wildflowers for those who prefer the wildflower look to cultivated floral arrangements.
“We want to make sure we’re making everybody happy,” she said.
This winter, she plans to bring in big, comfortable chairs and create a seating area near the building’s original fireplace, built into the shop.
She also carries candles made by a Windsor artisan, and said she plans to purchase her products from local vendors as often as possible. Also new is a point-of-sale software and a new website-in-progress, which the family has been working to update with original photos from their shop. The owners are hoping for that website, www.sugarbushflorist.com, to go live the first week of August. It will offer customers the choice to place online orders 24 hours a day.
The Epsteins have also increased the shop’s delivery area to serve the Windsor, Ascutney, West Windsor, Perkinsville, Weathersfield, Hartland, North Hartland, Quechee, White River, Reading, Springfield, North Springfield, South Woodstock, Woodstock, and Norwich; and in New Hampshire, serving Cornish, Cornish Flat, Claremont, Meriden, Plainfield, Lebanon, West Lebanon, Etna and Hanover. They may also have a driver available for other communities upon request.
Future plans for Sugarbush Florist include classes on how to make floral arrangements, Christmas tree topiaries, and holiday floral crafts, beginning this fall. The family also plans to look into creating prom and wedding planning events.
Diane Epstein said she hopes to create a special shopping event before prom that will allow customers to see and feel different types of flowers for corsages and arrangements. She also hopes to work in collaboration with local businesses that sell jewelry, clothing and accessories, and with local hairdressers, to create a diverse event showcasing local items and services available for the special night.
The florist shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In August, the family plans to expand hours to include Sunday mornings to accommodate customers in need of fresh flowers for church events, those visiting family members in nearby care facilities, or for any other needs, she said. They may also consider Monday hours, depending on clients’ needs, she said.
For more information on upcoming events, call (802) 674-6554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.