What stands out the most about the Virginia Florist, located in Belle View Shopping Center? Its not just the spectacular flowers or the unusual gifts or even the helpful staff.
The answer is its all of the above. The Virginia Florist has been Alexandrias primary floral shop for 50 years now and celebrated the milestone by having a party and a sale in the shop on July 7.
The owners of the shop, husband and wife, Kevin and Kathy Green, are not the original owners. It was originally owned by Virgina Olson, hence the name The Virginia Florist.
The shop opened in 1957, just four years after the Belle View Shopping Center itself was created in 1953. It was the second-to-last shop to be added to the shopping center. Green remembered coming to the shopping center as a small child.
Olsons granddaughter, Carolyn Marshall, took over for Olson in the mid-1980s. The shop sold flowers as well as gifts, but the shop itself was in much smaller premises then it is today.
The Greens purchased the shop in February 2000. Kevin Greens grandfather also owned a flower shop in Seattle from the 1930s to the 60s. He said that if the flower business could stay afloat during the Great Depression then he felt pretty secure with it.
When the Greens purchased the shop, they also moved the shop to a different location. Although the new location was still in the same shopping center, it was twice as big.
Some of the longtime employees of the florist include Anne Allen, who purchases the gifts and arranges the window displays. She has been with the shop since its relocation in 2000.
Shakeela Doskas is one of the employees who stayed with the shop when it switched ownership and relocated. She is the main flower designer and purchases the fresh flowers from Holland.
Another longtime employee is Jay Farabaugh, who is primarily in charge of managing operations. Two flower designers are Ledis Reyes and Chiecko Okamoto, who specializes in traditional Japanese-style Ikebama design. Another employee is Laura Skinner who works in the front of the shop. The Greens daughter, Caitlin, also frequently works at the shop.
Aside from the design and sales aspect of the business, delivery is very important. The drivers at Virginia Florist include retired mailmen, former Dutch Air Force officers and high school students.
The shop now is doing around $1.5 million in gross revenues a year.
We are doing about 10 times more business then we were doing just seven years ago, said Kevin Green.
The shop caters to law firms in the District and in Georgetown. They are also the official florist for Mount Vernon Hospital and they cater to churches all over Alexandria. When any of the local high schools have a prom or a homecoming, the florist is also one of the primary shops for corsages or boutonnires.