Alliston is a small community in south Central Ontario that has undergone significant change recently with the influx of large box stores on the town’s periphery. As with many small towns, this type of development has put tremendous stress on the small businesses, which occupy the downtown core. When this began to happen, the owners of Bern’s Flowers made a proactive move to respond to the changing market by updating their image to promote their floral design service and to attract and retain valuable clientele. They knew that a very important part of the image update would be the physical premises of their store.

The existing store was an original building, which doubled in size with an addition in the 1980’s. To unite the front elevation as a cohesive whole, a veranda addition stretching the full width of the building was introduced. The veranda also incorporated a screened upper deck that provided privacy for the residence above. The design incorporates a palette of quality materials, effective lighting and strong details inspired by Japanese and Arts & Crafts styles.

The addition did not increase the interior square footage of the shop but has expanded the merchandizing area with covered exterior display for all seasons. The addition improved the usability of the interior area at the front of the store by providing shading that creates a more easily controlled environment for the display of merchandise vulnerable to direct sun. The new design also incorporates a landscaped garden area that also serves as a showcase for the shop’s garden design skills.

Even during construction, the project created much curiosity and interest. The final product continues to cause passers-by to stop and enter the shop out of curiosity. Increased sales patterns since the renovation reflect the success of the owners in achieving their goals of attracting quality customers for their quality products and services.

The storefront has been photographed for local promotions as a “face of the community”, recognized as a local landmark, revitalizing the downtown and creating an anchor for the west end of the downtown core. Their new store has also been profiled in the trade publication, Retail Florist. The success of Bern’s Flowers reinforces the axiom that “Good Design is Good Business”.

Photography by: Sean O’Reilly