Miniature bouquets billowing gently in the breeze beckoned us to enter.
We were greeted by Helen, whose floral shirt dress matched the dreamy florals that filled the shop. Today we share a conversation with the current operator and owner of the historic Thomas Hobbs Florist, which was established over 40 years ago.
Though the shop has changed hands a few times, the iconic facade and the aromatic florals keeps the experience consistent for regulars and passerby. The first 10 years was owned and operated by Thomas Hobbs himself, after which Maureen Sullivan took over for 25 years, and now Helen Rivera has been at the helm for the past 4 years.
A well-known name throughout the City of Vancouver, we can find beautiful arrangements by Thomas Hobbs Florist at the Wall Centre, at Cactus Club on Burrard, and within various corporate offices and at corporate events.
Vibrant purples, intense reds, popping yellows drew our mesmerized eyes to every corner of the room. The cooler housed unique florals that stands out from the regular roses.
Designed arrangements allow you to spontaneously pick up a piece to liven up your home, both with its sweetly scented aromas and eye-catching colours.
We sat down with Helen to chat about the history and evolution of Thomas Hobbs Florist, a well-known mainstay of the Kerrisdale community - it’s where the community buys their weekly bouquets for their kitchen, dining table or patio.
Helen, the current owner, had been a floral design hobbyist who’s day job was a school teacher, indulging in her hobby whenever she could. The previous owner, Maureen Sullivan, had been Helen’s Instructor at the Vancouver Floral Design School, and when they were looking for someone to extend the Thomas Hobbs legacy, Helen excitedly stepped up to the plate to pursue the art she loves.
When asked about the style of florals one would find at Thomas Hobbs, Helen shared that they are known for English Garden styles, where the colours are vibrant and the arrangements are in a rounded shape.
Helen says that the hardest part of the business is finding staff who want to work in the floral industry. Plus, it’s not all done after the interview and handshake, as the new employee would then require 2-3 months of training to learn the art.
When asked how it feels to transition from the hands-on, creative side of the business to the more ‘business and management’ side, Helen says that the amount of administration and operations was definitely unexpected, but it’s been a big learning curve and she is still able to be creative but now in a more strategic capacity. Similar to other business owners, Helen finds herself learning everything from updating the website to creating brand graphics.
Planning for the year starts early, in January, where the team of 13 develops the concepts for each season and embarking on buying trips across North America, sourcing quality blooms for the shop.
Helen has also branched out by opening a second store that caters more to consumers who reside in apartments and condos called Wallflower in downtown Vancouver.
Her next milestones are to refresh the branding and perhaps set her sights on opening another location, if she can find the staff.
We hope she does, so we can see more of their beautiful arrangements around town and in our homes! We thank Helen for taking the time to let us take an insider’s look a the iconic florist, one that has not only reached many milestones of its own, but also witnessed many of life’s milestones for their customers in the Kerrisdale community.