Neighbourhood values at Greenbank Flowers & Gifts
There is something deeply special about the business run by Carrie McLean. A fixture at Greenbank Hunt Club Centre in Nepean for more than 30 years, Greenbank Flowers & Gifts delivers on its promise of beautiful flowers and devoted customer service, but it's also so much more. In truth, this small business is a community hub, a place 'where everybody knows your name', Cheers with floral arrangements and a cup of coffee in place of the beer.
McLean has worked at the store since she was 17 years old, and became the owner of the business more than 20 years ago. Her relaxed, cheerful demeanor and ease with everyone who comes through her front door is infectious.
When she isn't in the back of the store preparing special arrangements for a wedding or funeral or out running deliveries, McLean can be found chatting with her extended family of customers, staff and friends at a small table at the back of the store. Even fellow tenants at the Centre tend to prefer hanging out at McLean's place.
McLean and her staff are known for giving lifts home to elderly clients, delivering groceries for loyal customers who are in need of an extra hand, and opening their doors to visiting pets while their owners do a bit of shopping next door at the Metro. Doing business in the way it was done decades ago, when 'local' was all that our parents and grandparents knew, simply comes naturally to McLean and her small staff who work in-store and run deliveries.
Delivering quality and deeply personal service
If you need flowers for a special event, Carrie McLean is known for her artistry and unique ability to introduce that personal touch. McLean and her staff know how to pull out stories from their customers, resulting in arrangements with real personal meaning.
The arrangements prepared for the funeral of one customer's mother included freezies tucked amongst the flowers and greenery. McLean had picked up on the warm memories of a mother who used to surprise her kids in the winter with freezies placed in snowbanks on their way home from the bus.
McLean works closely with every customer to draw out the special stories and memories that will help her to create floral arrangements with as much meaning as beauty. Photographs of absent parents are artfully placed in a bride's bouquet, personal mementoes are incorporated into arrangements. For McLean, the catalogues with set arrangements that characterize a florist's business are of limited use; she finds that customers are much more engaged when they can become directly involved in personalizing their arrangements.
Keeping up with the times
Watching how her business has changed over the years interests McLean as much as the ways in which it has stayed the same. She is still heartened by the men who come in to buy their wife a single, long-stem rose every week, and the young girls who stop in to choose a few special flowers for their mothers with the modest pocket money at their disposal.
Quality of product is extremely important to McLean and she's proud of the top-grade stock that she carries. Flowers that are past their prime don't go to waste, however. McLean has been donating these to local churches for years, where these still-beautiful blossoms are enjoyed by the congregations.
McLean's business gives back to the community in a huge variety of ways, and she's particularly keen about a Skype-based workshop she recently ran for schoolchildren in Riverside South. Having provided vases, foam and flowers in advance, McLean walked the children through a step-by-step flower arranging demonstration over the internet. She was thrilled with how differently each child approached his or her own creation.
For customers looking for more information or guidance, McLean and her staff also offer knowledge and expertise on general plant care, landscape gardening, and caring for orchids. The store's delivery area includes Nepean, Ottawa, Gloucester, Barrhaven, Orleans, Stittsville and Kanata; orders can be placed onsite or by calling 613-820-0120.
Profile published March 2013; updated March 2017.