Inside Hanson Road Flower Co., there is a small wagon tucked neatly by the door.
It’s the very wagon owner Riannon McVey was in when she and her sisters would pick wildflowers with their mother – naturally on Hanson Road, near St. Stephen, N.B.
Her passion for flowers was always there, she said, but it took her awhile to start doing it as her primary job.
“I got really obsessed with flowers and it all came rushing back to me how much I always loved flowers as a kid and, you know, the kind of peace they brought me,” she said in an interview Saturday.
She travelled to Australia to do floral design school, thinking she’d never return to New Brunswick.
“I spent some time in Asia — and then ended back in New Brunswick,” she said. “I got a little six-foot folding table and the northside market and sold my flowers there.”
In 2020, though, that market shut its doors for good due to the coronavirus pandemic. McVey moved her business into her home – dedicating one room to all things floral.
“The demand for flowers didn’t stop,” she said. “So I was getting flowers and selling them out of my spare bedroom in my apartment.”
She even started an Instagram account to accelerate her business and connect with customers. She said she made every interaction personal.
For McVey, the pandemic showed her that people were looking for a small glimmer of hope and happiness, but also a way to stay connected to each other.
Flowers fit the bill.
“It wasn’t like a person behind the counter, it was like me talking to another person who was also in their house by themselves wanting to talk about flowers and place an order,” she said. “And be like, ‘I miss my sister so much, she’s going to love this, it’s going to be like she’s getting a visit from me in the form of flowers since we can’t see each other.’”
For her, plants and flowers represent life and growth and with isolation – those things made people feel better.
As time went on, the demand didn’t slow. McVey said they needed to find a storefront – and did so on Brunswick Street – which was only about 650 square feet.
“We spent almost two years there at that little shop,” she said. “We outgrew it but we stuck it out and it was charming and we had roadies that stuck with us those market days.”
Now, she’s on King Street and things are busy.
‘Everyone is invited’
On Friday, McVey ran out of fresh flowers as she filled orders for Mother’s Day but also for events happening in different parts of the city on the weekend.
“It feels really, really good,” she said. “It’s been a hard-working few months so I’m trying to keep the emotions down.”
On Saturday, there was a steady flow of customers, many of whom McVey was able to remember or even call by name.
“It feels really good. Especially when I see customers come in and literally burst into tears of happiness to see how far it’s come.”
But McVey also gives back – there is a wall called Grow Your Own Way – which has planters where people can either bring in a plant or buy one and all proceeds go to help shelters and resources for women.
McVey said when people come to the store she hopes they find comfort in the flowers and plants the way she has been able to over the years.
“We’ve met a lot of new people too,” she said. “It feels really special. It feels like there is a Hanson Road Club and everyone is invited.”