It’s a celebratory year for Huntingdon’s flower shop, De Fleur en Fille. December 1 will mark 10 years since the shop was bought by Isabelle Arnau. The building on Huntingdon’s Chateauguay Street has housed a flower shop for more than 45 years, having passed down through three different owners.
Arnau grew up around flowers since her mother was a floral buyer; she knew from an early age she wanted to work in the field. In 2006, after the mill she was working at closed, she hoped to buy her own shop; however, at the time there were already two such shops in Huntingdon. She decided to put that dream on hold, until “a few years later, when the only flower shop in town was for sale – it was like there were blinking lights around the ‘for sale’ sign! It was meant to be.” It was then she started De Fleur en Fille.
The store now features a wide assortment of plant products, including bouquets for weddings, funerals, birthdays, and other occasions. But it also offers things like candles, food products, home decor, and more. Arnau mentions that she also sells specialty plants: “For such a small flower shop, we do carry a good inventory of plants. People in the area, they love their plants!”
A new website was recently launched which allows the business to properly display its products and design. On the old website, the pictures showed arrangements that weren’t actually done by the shop. Now, viewers can see daily products and “If you ask for a bouquet, it’ll be the same as what’s in the picture or similar, depending on availability.”
COVID-19 heavily affected floral shops everywhere, as there was a huge shortage of flowers. Arnau explains: “For a few days in Holland, they had to destroy their crops. After that it took a while, because when they restarted planting the flowers, they didn’t plant as many since they didn’t know what was going to happen.” Things got better for a while, but recently there has been another shortage due to the increased number of events happening, while flower producers still must deal with pandemic restrictions.
Though the shortage was problematic at the time, there was a silver lining. “It was kind of good, because the wholesaler was able to find other growers that were more local – within the country – so we didn’t have to rely so much on Holland and South America.” The shop had mainly worked with imported flowers, but this allowed it to explore other options.
During the pandemic, De Fleur en Fille was sometimes able to work with another Valley business. “Last year we bought from Au Beau Pré, but this year I guess they were swamped, and it didn’t happen that we were able to use their products.” Also, not all local products are available year-round, so importing them becomes necessary. “When people want something specific, it’s always easier to go to my wholesaler. And my wholesaler is there 12 months out of the year,” explains Arnau.
Being a main street business, Arnau has seen a lot of places come and go. This has taught her a lot about the importance of community support. “A small shop can’t survive without its community. Whenever a small shop opens, we need a community around us. I see it better now, but the first few years were scary.” In the past year and a half especially, she has seen people shifting to support their community more than ever. “People understand now, especially with COVID, when they had to rely on local stores because we weren’t allowed to move between regions.”
Annual Open House
To celebrate 10 years, Arnau will be continuing with De Fleur en Fille’s annual open house. She says, “I love the day that I bought my shop,” explaining that the time of year makes it even more special. Her open house consists of lots of beautiful Christmas decorations, discounts, draws, and many more festivities. This year it will be held from December 1 to 4.
Arnau is extremely grateful for all the community support she has received over the past decade. “I would like to thank everyone who’s come to our shop in the last ten years because without them we wouldn’t be here.” She extends her gratitude to her team of employees as well. “For years I had a hard time finding employees that were trained in the flower business and now I have the nicest team ever.”