Garside Florist speaks the language of family, flowers

The business is proud to be the oldest family owned florist in Vancouver

Garside family
Garside Florist currently has 12 employees and is the oldest family owned florist in Vancouver. Courtesy of Garside Florist

Garside Florist has been a longstanding Clark County business, operating for more than seven decades. Wally Garside opened Garside Florist in 1940. Del and Sharon Swanson bought the shop in 1965 from Ernie Rancore. Del and Sharon operated Garside Florist for 40 years until their daughter and son-in-law (Brenda and Kurt Snyder) bought the flower shop in 2005. Kurt and Brenda continue to run the shop today.

The full-service retail flower shop specializes in providing creative floral designs for everyday enjoyment as well as corporate events and special occasions like weddings or funerals. The company also carries a large selection of blooming and green plants, balloons, plush animals, chocolates and a line of lotions. Garside Florist is connected to other florists through the FTD network, which allows them to send and receive orders to and from other flower shops around the country.

The shop initially began in a 2,000-square-foot space in downtown Vancouver but moved to its current 4,000-square-foot space on East Mill Plain Boulevard in 1980. Garside Florist has 12 employees and is proud to be the oldest family owned florist in Vancouver.

Kurt and Brenda have worked with thousands of customers over the years and share that it is always interesting to learn the stories that each person comes in with. Sometimes customers share a lot of information with them about why they are having flowers delivered – sometimes too much, Brenda said lightheartedly. Each arrangement has a reason for being assembled and delivered and this is part of how the job stays interesting. The Snyders and their team have learned to navigate each order with attention to detail, whether it is for a new customer or a loyal customer that has been ordering with them for years.

Kurt said that being a family owned business comes with a balance of advantages and disadvantages.

“The advantages are having family around and having someone to bounce ideas off of and make real-time decisions regarding the business,” Kurt said. “Also, having a lot of the same employees for many years helps with that as well. The disadvantage is trying to take vacations together. Holidays are difficult since we are always working. The family members not involved with the shop need to stop by if they want to see us. Someday, hopefully we’ll spend Brenda’s birthday and Christmas on a beach somewhere.”

The Snyders know that the world of business in the internet age is always evolving and, with that, they have seen a significant increase in website orders, especially from new customers that are moving to the area. They recognize that one of the challenges is to keep up with industry trends, while figuring out ways to successfully maintain profitability with increases in wage, healthcare and new taxes.

Brenda shares why keeping Garside Florist in the family is important for the business, but also the community.

“It allows us to have that connection from one generation to another with our customers,” she said. “Also, being that we work in the shop daily, we are hands-on with almost every order – from the flower ordering process, to design and finally delivery.”

Brooke Strickland
A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Strickland is a full-time freelance writer that specializes in writing blogs, website content, and business news for companies & publications around the country. She is also the co-author of Hooked on Games, a book about technology and video game addiction.

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