Shepparton florist shop to close as rent soars

By Liz Mellino

More than 50 years of floristry in Shepparton will be lost on Saturday when The Florist on Fryers closes its doors for the final time.

With the rent set to more than double next month, owner Nicole Cleave said she had no other choice but to say goodbye to her much-loved store.

‘‘We were told that the rent was going to more than double and I had to make a decision quickly about what to do, so we decided to close the doors,’’ she said.

‘‘I didn’t have the choice to sell the business ... I could have moved but it just happened so quickly — so I made a decision to go.’’

Ms Cleave said she was informed about the rate changes at the end of November, and knew she had to make a decision immediately before she began to restock the store for Valentine’s Day.

While the news came as a complete shock to Ms Cleave, it appears she is not the only business owner in the Star Bowl Arcade who is suffering from the price hike.

‘‘The bookshop closed down last week and the others are waiting to see what happens ... we needed to make a decision before Valentine’s Day about whether we restock the shop, so we decided not to because then we would have had to stay longer to get rid of more things,’’ she said.

‘‘I am angry and sad, this week has been very hard.’’

While it will be sad to see the end to this chapter, Ms Cleave said she looked back on the past 17 years with great fondness.

Ms Cleave purchased the Florist on Fryers in 2002. However, the store had been an established florist for more than 30 years before that.

What began as Goulburn Valley Florist became Lorisanne, before the previous owner changed the name to Florist on Fryers.

‘‘I was looking for another job and I saw in the paper a florist shop was for sale and I have always loved flowers,’’ Ms Cleave said.

‘‘We came down to have a look; I didn’t know anything but I bought it without being a florist — which was a bit silly.’’

With limited skills behind her, Ms Cleave attended Marjorie Milner College in Melbourne where she quickly learnt the tricks of the trade.

‘‘I made a few mistakes along the way but that’s part of it — I learnt from them. It’s been good but it’s gone quickly, very fast,’’ she said.

During the past 17 years Ms Cleave has established a large clientele, working on thousands of weddings, funerals and life milestones for families in the Goulburn Valley. Bursting with floral arrangements, teddy bears, chocolates and balloons it is evident the store has brought an eye-catching window display to the Fryers St streetscape for more than five decades.

During her time in business Ms Cleave said she had witnessed a number of changes in the floristry trade, with bouquet styles continuing to evolve each year.

‘‘The styles have changed but they will come back around to the old ways again, they always do ... the wild look is very in at the moment,’’ she said.

‘‘You just go with the trends, it doesn’t really stand out that much when things change.’’

With only three days left in business, Ms Cleave is discounting remaining stock to ensure it is cleared by the time doors close on Saturday afternoon.

With a tear in her eye she looks out on what is left of her once-bustling store, with only a handful of bears and the odd flower arrangement in sight.

As she looks back on 17 years in business, Ms Cleave said the people she worked with and the customers she met along the way made the experience worthwhile.

‘‘The flowers do make you feel good. I just got up everyday — I loved coming here ... it was always a challenge, always something different,’’ she said.

‘‘Thank you to all of our customers for supporting us over the years and all those people who have turned into friends.’’

The Florist on Fryers will be closing its doors on Saturday, with all stock excluding flowers marked at 50percent off. The store will be open from 8.30am to 5.30pm today to Friday and 8.30am to 2pm on Saturday.