Bloomers turns 40

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

The flower business is an early morning affair. My morning usually starts with an espresso at Jackson and Fillmore, then a short hop past Alta Plaza Park to work at Bloomers at 2975 Washington Street.

Opening the door, I’m met with the fragrance of fresh flowers and the aroma of more strong coffee brewing in the back room. The crew is already at work trimming, cutting, cleaning, putting flowers into water and setting up the store for another day of business. Presiding over all this industry, as he has since 1977, is owner and proprietor Patric Powell.

This year the venerable Pacific Heights florist is celebrating 40 years of flowering. That alone is a real accomplishment — a thriving small business with a rarefied and fragile product in an expensive city of fickle taste.

Three locations later, Bloomers has weathered the storms of rising operating costs, real estate pressures, a major earthquake, 9/11, the dot-com bust and now the rise of tech culture and online shopping. The first location was on Sacramento Street, the next on Presidio Avenue and now, since 1989, on Washington Street. Our forever home is tucked away on a mostly residential block, but the integrity and classic beauty of the work produced at Bloomers continues to draw longtime customers and lure in new ones. The store, with its fresh and beautiful flowers, gorgeous arrangements and carefully curated gifts and accessories, continues to charm first-time shoppers as well as those in the know.

As we begin work each morning, we talk about the dinner we had last night, a new bakery or restaurant we’ve found, the trip we’re planning to take, or the trip we wish we could take. We talk about family. We tell stories and joke around, but all the while we’re mapping out the day’s schedule and preparing for the orders ahead of us.

This is my favorite part of the day at Bloomers and often the busiest. For those of us in the crew, this is the beginning of our day. But Patric is already well into his day, having marketed before dawn and driven the van loaded with flowers back to the store. Then it’s 9 o’clock and the show is on. Phones start ringing, customers walk in. There are emails to answer, arrangements to make and bouquets to wrap. We are in full swing.

There is something significant about flowers, something more than their beauty or the aesthetics of floral design. Flowers are important. They mark all of life’s significant events, from joyous to fun to sad. We welcome babies with flowers; we thank people with flowers; we celebrate holidays, events and achievements with flowers; we express love with flowers; we wed with flowers; we heal with flowers; we say goodbye with flowers.

They are not a mere commodity; they mean something. And, of course, there is the pure wonder and decorative nature of flowers and plants, those things that make our homes welcoming and comfortable, be it a modest apartment or a grand mansion.

I felt positively giddy when I landed a job at this venerable institution 15 years ago. Some of the staff have been at Bloomers twice that long, a testimony to Patric’s generosity and respect for the people who work for him. And what good fortune to be surrounded by flowers every day, to see the seasons reflected in the gorgeous materials brought into the store, and to be in a business whose mission is to make beauty happen every day.

In our recent morning conversations about Bloomers’ 40 years, Patric tells us he knew early on that he wanted to be a florist. A native of St. Helena, he knew he wanted to be in San Francisco and to have a shop here in the city. That certainty and a genuine love of the business makes it all work.

I feel lucky I followed through with that Craigslist ad years back and got to be a part of the Bloomers family. I am grateful to have a job that is fun and fulfilling — and where every day I learn something about flowers and plants, about antiques and old movies, about running a small business while creating good will in the community I call home.

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