For 41 years, Bear Creek Florist — formerly known as JaRae’s — has and continues to operate as a family-owned flower shop.
Since opening in 1978, Lisa Aliment, the current shop owner, said there are very few stores in Bear Creek Shopping Center that can claim to be original tenants, pointing to Safeway, Rapunzel’s Hair Salon, a barbershop and a drugstore as buildings from a time when her aunt, Janice Tanner, and her father, Ray Aliment, made a pact to open the store together.
During the holidays, flower shops everywhere are preparing for the surge of orders from people wanting to decorate their homes for the festivities or to give as gifts for loved ones. A trend Lisa has noticed through the years is the fact that people are buying fewer arrangements specific to a home but rather are giving flower designs to friends as gifts during the holidays. Lisa attributes this change to more people spending Thanksgiving with friends, not just family.
“So many people don’t live close to families anymore,” She said.
Lisa does not believe the beauty and art of high-end flower arrangements has faded; people still prefer professionally designed flowers over mass-produced grocery store selections or a bucket shop where flowers are hastily grouped and bundled, she said.
“I can give the same flowers to 20 different floral designers and give them the same container to make an arrangement,” Lisa said, “and we’ll get 20 arrangements that are very different from each other due to their own artistic interpretation of what a design with those particular flowers looks like.”
Although Lisa has a rough idea of what her inventory will look like, she does not have full autonomy over the flowers and foliage that will be on the market; that is dependent on the farmers themselves and what they decide to grow.
“The growers grow their crops seasonally,” Lisa said. “So right now it’s fall and everybody thinks of oranges and bronze. Well, the crops [farmers] plant way in Ecuador, way up in Canada, way [down] in California where they’re really growing all the flowers, those crops are going to be in those color.”
Those environments not only influence the tones of the flowers, but farmers might decide to forgo an entire crop if there isn’t a high demand. People aren’t buying bronze colors for their centerpieces after December, she explained.
Lisa said when people visit florists, they’re shopping for a professional’s skill. Color wheels, negative and positive space, textures and grouping of flowers influence the presentation of an arrangement.
“We’re not production; we’re artists,” Lisa said. “When you go into a grocery store and grab some flowers, you’re giving flowers, but it’s not really something that someone has really specialized in.”
She said there’s a creative process that happens when people go to a florists that adds an extra layer of thoughtfulness. The species of flowers picked, the color scheme, the style of a vase are all ways Lisa said people can show the uniqueness of a gift. She explained with the convenience of the Internet, people often put off gift giving until the last minute or they equate the cost of a gift to show how much they care.
“When people come in to pick out a bouquet, they go that extra mile,” Lisa said. “It isn’t just a last-minute, pick-it-up, get-it-delivered process.”
Anniversaries, weddings, dating and funerals are occasions when people seek out Lisa’s shop. For occasions of sympathy, Lisa said you’re always 100 percent good with white, yellow and chartreuse green. But she said it’s very subjective; on one occasion a friend who was going through a loss said the brightest flower arrangement made her feel better.
Lisa doesn’t see the florist business disappearing anytime soon. Despite living in a world that is ever increasingly becoming tech-oriented she doesn’t believe people are willing to give up on deep-rooted traditions, the most recent being Redmond High School homecoming dance.
Bear Creek Florist did 89 wristlet corsages and 82 boutonnieres for the high schoolers, each one customized for the student. Lisa still gets excited building boutonnieres, explaining it’s the artistic aspect that drives her to do the work she does and the idea that when a student is pinning a flower on a tux or slipping a corsage onto their wrist, they are wearing something unique to match the event.