Florists bloom where planted
- Mary Bellotti
- Portland Tribune - News
To sell or not to sell.
That was the question facing Doug and Janice Fick in the summer of 2001 when Aiyana Group Architects offered to buy Broadway Floral Home and Garden, the shop the Fick family has owned at 1638 N.E. Broadway since 1970.
Though they briefly considered selling, the Ficks eventually decided to stay put, even though Aiyana plans to build a massive six-story retail-and-residential complex that will surround their one-story 3,600-square-foot floral shop.
'It's not easy to move a viable business and maintain that same level of business,' said Doug Fick, noting that a florist shop has been in that location since 1928, when it was established as Canby Floral, and has cultivated generations of regular customers over the years.
Besides, 'this is the best corner of the block, in my opinion,' Fick said.
Broadway Floral is one of three buildings Aiyana wanted to buy on property bordered by Northeast Weidler Street and Broadway, and by Northeast 16th and 17th avenues to site its development, which will include a Zupan's market and 88 condominiums.
Aiyana acquired the former Original Portland Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant, at 1613 N.E. Weidler St., and a business complex that fronts the 1600 block of Northeast Broadway.
But the Ficks held out, and not just because of the florist shop's deep roots in the neighborhood. Selling might have undone a four-year expansion that has included a business name change, adding home-and-garden furnishings to the store's offerings, and undertaking an expensive remodeling project that added a 'solarium showroom' to the building.
'We have seen an increase in business since (the changes),' Fick said. 'It's hard to tell if it's due to the nesting mode people are in or to the increased density of the neighborhood.'
The Ficks acquired the business in the mid-'90s from Doug Fick's parents, Wayne and Patti Ruth Fick, who bought Canby Floral in 1970.
Doug Fick said his parents considered it a mistake when he and Janice changed the name to Broadway Floral Home and Garden about four years ago. But the couple figured the store had a better chance if it didn't sound as if it were located in Canby.
'We'd get calls for the Canby area,' he said. 'New people looking throughout the phone book might think we weren't in the area.'
Though flowers still account for about 65 percent of sales, the shop attracts shoppers Ñ mostly women Ñ with a mix of furniture and other household items and gifts. It is open seven days a week, employing 11 full- and part-time employees.
Though he wouldn't discuss revenues, Fick said the store's sales were 'up a small portion' over last year. Like most businesses, Broadway Floral saw sales dip in 2001.
'We seem to be fairly resilient,' Fick said of the economic slump.
Occupying a prominent corner on a retail-heavy street doesn't hurt, which brings Fick back to his reasons for not selling out to Aiyana.
'Our building is unique; it's a warm, inviting space with a lot of sunlight,' he said. 'We'd rather stay here and take our chances.'
Fick says he bears no ill will toward Aiyana or the building that will rise around his business; he generally supports the project because it should boost neighborhood businesses.
Still, the project worries him. For one thing, the building will be 65 feet high, which he fears will block the natural light that streams into his solarium in winter months. Artificial light will help but could diminish one of the shop's charms, he said. Also, he worries about the impact construction will have on his business.
As for not acquiring Broadway Floral, Shaw said: 'It would have been great if we could have bought the property. But we've moved on. And it will be nice to have a florist in the neighborhood.'