It’s a lucky person who makes a living bringing beauty or color into the lives of others. If you find a way to double up on that, you will surely cross over from selling to customers to delivering products to loyal fans.
That’s the business of Ginny’s Orchids. Her daughter, Phoebe, likes to say “Business is Blooming”, her signs and cards announce “Blooming Since 1987.” An advertising major, I love them both. As we talked, I was surrounded by the intensely colored proof.
I loved Ginny’s Orchids the first time I ever saw them. It was sometime during our first year in Winter Park, now almost 5 years ago. I thought I’d discovered this amazing new orchid vendor at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market and was telling a neighbor about them. “Oh, Ginny,” she immediately responded. When things are new to you, you just sort of assume they’ll be new to others as well. But not Ginny and her orchids. Phoebe assures me from her own experiences that “EVERYBODY knows Ginny.”
Stop & smell the orchids along the way. Ginny stops to take in the fragrance of a “pansy orchid”.
Now twenty four years after its start at the farmer’s market, Ginny’s Orchids has gone indoors with a shop on Morse Avenue. Waiting until Saturday to pick up the perfect house-warming gift, new color for the foyer, a pick me up for an ill friend, is no longer necessary. Orchids and much more are now available Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5.
I ask Ginny how the transition has been and no verbal answer was necessary. Her face said it all. She admits it was a little scary committing to a store front, but now says “when I walk in the door, I think ‘Oh my God, this is mine’.”
Not bad for an endeavor which began simply because “it was something that I loved”. She applied and was on the farmer’s market waiting list for a year and a half. By the time a space was available, she was pregnant with her son, George.
She starts to tell me about the early days as another Winter Park resident comes in to admire the shop, to “oooh” and “ahhhh”. There’s lots of that. A visit to the new store can be a bit like a fireworks display. Phoebe, constructing an arrangement of succulents – new to Ginny’s offerings since opening the store – elaborates, saying, “She had one card table. She would be excited if she sold three, or a tray. My dad would come pick her up and she’d be like, ‘Oh my God, I sold a tray of orchids!’”
Gorgeous displays with orchids around the store often provoking the “oooh”s and “aahhhh”s which are nearly as prevalent.
Within a few years she was approached about placing orchids in the new SunTrust building in downtown Orlando, adding service within private homes in the mid-90’s. As with most growing businesses, she made due in some areas with what was handy. “In order to transport the orchids through the bank I used my double baby stroller,” she explains. “At the time I had her (referring to Phoebe). One child in the front and orchids in the back.” The stroller was retired from that function just last year as the wheels were falling off.
The orchid business has increasingly become a family affair. Her husband, Bob, came to work with her full-time four years ago and Phoebe now works at the store four days a week. “We tag team a little bit,” Ginny explains about duties and responsibilities. “I don’t consider myself a creative person at all,” she asserts. “I have attention deficit disorder.” She says Phoebe and Bob are the detail-oriented members of the family team, while “I’m the big picture girl. Let’s do that! And then you all,” referring to Phoebe and Bob, “figure it out, how to make it happen.” Phoebe says Ginny is “the people person. She’s so easy to talk to.”
Like mother like daughter. Phoebe Enstad arranges a bowl of succulents, added since opening the store.
Ginny is also still the orchid expert. She walks about the store in her deep pink Lily Pulitzer dress sharing her knowledge of the various types. “This is the phalaenopsis season,” she says, referring to the large white and bright pink to purple ones about. Another, she says, is commonly referred to as “dancing lady”. “Out in the jungle, when the wind blows,” as she shakes it a bit, “she’s dancing.” I ask if there’s a rule of thumb for figuring out which varieties might be most hardy, and she immediately responds: “Ask me.” She delights in telling me she frequently has people drop by at the farmer’s market to tell her an orchid they’d purchased four months earlier is still blooming. She began adding her ‘signature’, the raffia-tied moss “accoutrement” tied about the stems, in the late 90s. It’s an adornment which now seems instantly recognizable to her orchids anywhere around Winter Park. On the day I visit, she tells me of a woman from Palm Beach who made the drive to Winter Park and then home again simply to purchase 15 orchids for a benefit. Later, I see a happy photo of Ginny with the woman on her facebook page.
The store has presented opportunities to carry more than orchids. You might get the feeling that Ginny and family have traveled the east coast and part of France simply to offer the items now available for sale. I tell her it’s the kind of store you can visit 5, 6, 7 times and always find something new, something you hadn’t noticed before. “Oh good,” she says, “that’s what I wanted. I like that when I go into a place.”
Something to attract the eye everywhere.
The shop manages a wonderful balance of bright and cheery, cozy and warm. Manes of ferns sprout from head statuary, orchids dangle from the walls, water trickles from a fountain somewhere in the distance. Initially that water sound greeted you immediately when you entered the door, but that sold the first week. Phoebe explains that “nothing stays in here long”. Ginny adds that they’ve “sold things we didn’t think we would sell.” She says “we pretty much buy what we like and hope other people will like it.” Sometimes, she says, “I’ll say I don’t really like that and Bob will say, ‘Well, it’s not all about you.’” Phoebe insists that she’s the mediator of the family, as well as the IT department.
Always the focus, Ginny’s Orchids are spread throughout the store.
With many new additions, orchids are still the focus. You find them in most displays, you’ll find them lined up on tables, filling the back area where prep work for the floor and deliveries occurs. “At the market they’re stuck in trays unless they’re in an arrangement,” says Phoebe. “Some lady said just today that it’s so hard when they’re stuck in those trays because you don’t see what each orchid looks like. So here we have the opportunity to separate the orchids and let people get a good look at them.”
Hanging about the walls, filling baskets, sitting within pots and urns, beautiful and colorful, waiting for the next fans who visit.