The most magical flower shop in Kingston, says owner
Michelle J. Stenson knew she wanted to be a flower shop owner as a young teenager.
“I heard of someone who was working at a flower shop and then I thought that sounded kind of cool and then my mother got me a job working at a flower shop in Amherstview. I was 13. And I just found out last year that it was actually my mother who was paying me. Isn’t that cool? So, she just wanted something different for me to do (because) I was a really big handful."
Though she didn’t go right into the trade. First, she dove into all kinds of post-secondary opportunities: a floristry program at Algonquin College, then an apprenticeship in Holland, environmental degree at Carleton University and finally, teachers' college.
When she was finished, she acquired a job with the Boys and Girls Club, co-ordinating the after school program as well as running summer arts camps.
This all came to a halt when her contract was coming to an end and her father was diagnosed with ALS. She took a break from work to mourn his death and decided then would be the time to move on to what she’d always imagined doing.
“The store is actually kind of a tribute to him because after he passed away I obtained a lot of his cool stuff… I have his naked lady over there, which I use to take photos of my bridal work, and then the shuffle board that’s in the back was my dad’s, and the chair that’s hanging on the wall was also my dad’s, so there’s a lot of my dad in here."
One of the key things of his in her shop is the big workbench she uses as her front counter. After his death, she said she found an old shoelace in its drawers, which inspired her to create tin can flower arrangements from his recycling, wrapped in string for his funeral. She kept the original shoelace and said her father used this symbol as a sign when it came to finding her store.
“When I was looking for a location for my shop, I pulled up here – it was all kind of boarded up. And it was January. And the ground was wet outside. It was grey and dreary. And then I came and I was just kind of looking in the window and then I looked down and there was (a) shoelace and it was just on the threshold of the door. And it was perfectly dry and clean."
She now works from 577 Division St. and lives right next door. She claims her shop is the most magical in Kingston with the porcelain bathtub of fish, her dogs running around and the flowers that come from her back garden, local gardeners and internationally. In the back of her store, she also has a workshop space, which she says she uses for anything and everything, including artsy workshops, craft sales, birthday parties and field trips.
“I love it when little kids come into the shop just generally speaking because it’s the first time a lot of children will go to a flower shop and I feel like I have ruined them for all other flower shops to come because mine’s so super fun."