Valley Flowers blooms at new location | News

NEW BETHLEHEM – In the wake of a 10-year anniversary and a recent move to a new location, business continues to bloom at Valley Flowers and Gifts in New Bethlehem.

Last month, the longtime Broad Street business officially opened its doors at its new location along Wood Street, next to RMS Furniture.

Although moving the flower shop was not the initial plan when owner Renee Rapp-Minsterman purchased the Wood Street building last summer, she said earlier this week that the idea seemed to make sense the more time she spent in the new, one floor space.

“Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a larger, one-story space would be a better fit for the flower shop based on ease of parking availability, both for customers and the flower delivery trucks,” Rapp-Minsterman said, noting that the Wood Street building also offered the opportunity for an open floor plan similar to that of Valley Flowers’ sister store, Wildflowers, in Shippenville. “Our old location did not have an open floor plan, and after building our Riverhill location, I knew what type of space worked well for a showroom and designing work space so I decided to mirror the concept.”

In the ensuing six months — with Rapp-Minsterman at the helm of demolition and design and Carrier Construction in charge of the carpentry work — the building received a facelift with a new ceiling, as well as new electrical and HVAC systems. The carpeting was removed and the original cement floor painted, and the rear entrance, facing the municipal parking lot, was updated.

“We started moving into the space the first of the year,” Rapp-Minsterman noted, pointing out that the Valley Flowers staff — including general manager Kim Eberle and store associate Gabby Smith, along with help from Wildflowers general manager Heather Johnson — were vital in preparing and moving the store to its new location.

“We were closed for about three weeks while we worked to move and finish the final touches,” she continued, adding that Valley Flowers officially reopened in its new Wood Street location on Jan. 20. “This spring we will tackle the front of the building, replacing the windows and updating the roof awning.”

With the new, larger open floor space, Rapp-Minsterman said she plans to incorporate new inventory offerings at Valley Flowers, including offering customers a more interactive experience when it comes to selecting fresh flowers.

“When we built out the floral cooler, I added a front double display door that our old cooler setup did not include,” she said, explaining that customers now have the opportunity to look, feel, smell the flowers to select and design their own bouquet for quick grab wrapped arrangements.

If a customer is new to floral design, or looking for a vase arrangement, she added, designers will be available as always to arrange the bouquet.

“Either way, it gives the customer the opportunity to be involved in the creation of their arrangement,” Rapp-Minsterman said, adding that the open floor plan more than tripled the designing work space.

The new year not only brought a change of location for Valley Flowers, but it also marks Rapp-Minsterman’s 10th anniversary in business in New Bethlehem.

“I’ve had the business for 10 years; however the flower shop itself has been a staple in the community for some time,” she said.

Reflecting on how the business has changed over the years, Rapp-Minsterman said she has seen a shift in trends for product demand and home decor.

“When I started in the industry, bereavement items for funerals were just starting to take launch,” she said, explaining grieving families like to have a keepsake to remember their loved one, and customers feel that they are getting something long-lasting for their money. “Now they are prominent fixtures at the funeral homes.”

She also said that decor seasons have changed over the years.

“When I started, we were in the country primitive home decor season,” she said. “The current phase is modern farmhouse decor.”

There is also more competition with large box chains, online shopping and the minimalist movement, but Rapp-Minsterman attributes Valley Flowers’ success over the years to its “diverse product lines, bereavement items and fresh floral products.”

“I’m seeing a shift in preference for fresh flowers from our customers,” she said, noting that artificial flowers had been trending in recent years. “Customers are now wanting fresh flowers to enjoy, which I can understand. There is just something about a fresh arrangement of colorful flowers on your kitchen table to brighten your day and home.”

Looking to the future, Rapp-Minsterman said she hopes the business will continue to be a part of the community for years to come, whether it be under her stewardship or that of another person.

“I want our little town to always have a flower shop,” she said, noting that she wants Valley Flowers to be a place for people to grab special gifts and fresh floral arrangements for any occasion. “No matter the occasion, I want our community to have a resource to shop local and support local people who live and work in our small town.”

Valley Flowers and Gifts is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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