By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Something fresh is in the air at Keizer Florist, and it’s not just the mums, the roses and the baby’s breath.
Its on-site cafe now opens at 6 a.m. daily serving fresh coffee and lattes to go with fresh-baked cookies and brownies. And its showroom has been refreshed to show more gifts, including a wide variety of gourmet chocolates, to go alongside what was already an impressive selection of fresh-cut flowers.
In the middle of it all is Julie Wallace. If you can’t find her, just look for the beaming smile.
This is life, full circle.
“My parents, in our living room, had French doors opening into a greenhouse. It was heated and watered, so we grew our own flowers,” Wallace said. “I’ve had my fingers in it all my life.”
A love for plants would seemingly be part and parcel of the desire to open a floral shop, and the green thumb she picked up as a child has developed with Wallace as an adult. Her home has its own greenhouse and she’s been president of her local garden club.
And when she decided to make a real, professional go at the floral dream she enrolled at Portland’s Floral Design Institute, including its entrepreneurship weekend. (Wallace knows her numbers, having a hand in managing the Oregon Department of Transportation’s bond portfolio when she worked for the state.)
“Besides teaching form and style and space and technique, they teach you about each one of the flowers, how to process it and how to lengthen their life,” Wallace said. “One thing I got out of my formal design is to stick my bouquets in the refrigerator at night.”
Originally from Michigan, she and her husband live in their retirement home near Gates. She chose Keizer Florist in part because she enjoyed the local community, having lived here in the 1990s.
She said a floral shop like Keizer Florist’s advantage over grocery or non-specialty vendors is the care they receive, both before and after they arrive:
“They’re more expensive, but the quality’s there. It lasts longer,” she said.
Besides Wallace, the store has nine employees, including manager Kellie Hoops. A new barista will help operate the cafe, which will utilize the building’s drive-up window.She hopes to maintain upon and build the customer base built by prior owner Dennis Scott, and the Hupy family before him.
“There are customers that are loyal, who moved out of the area and still come here,” she said.
Her designs are grand, and she may not be content with business as it stands today, but the happiness is on her face.
“I’m one of those people who if my fingers are in the dirt, I’m happy,” she said. “And it smells good in here.”
631 Chemawa Rd N., Keizer
Monday though Friday 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sat-Sun 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.