August 12, 2014
Successful retail shops are generally the result of years of hard work, and often a number of owners each leaving their own footprint. Bern’s Flowers has been a part of the Alliston Downtown community for nearly 40 years, with only two previous owners. Bern’s has ranked in the top 25 florists in Canada by Teleflora for the past decade and this year ranked 8th out of 1200 members! Sharon & Lachlan McGurk are the newest successors of Bern’s Flowers & Gifts, taking the reins from the previous owners who over 28 years, took it from an obscure little shop to a well-known and respected business.
Sharon and Lachlan are both from the UK and their stories are uniquely interesting. Sharon was practically born into the floral business as her love of the industry began at the age of 13 when her parents opened their first shop. As well as working in various flower shops in the UK and Europe, Sharon taught floristry at the highest levels for several years whilst in the UK. The couple moved from the UK to Alliston in 2007. Sharon was employed as a designer at Bern’s Flowers within the first week of settling in Canada!
Lachlan’s interests were never quite as flower centric. He was trained as an IT project manager and today still provides consultation and training in project management. Lachlan’s skills came in handy as he sought ways to discover and fill the gaps where the business could be improved further. Some new initiatives include floral workshops, expanded gardening services, and the ‘Urn Club’.
The opportunity to take over Bern’s Flowers was always there but never seemed to be the right time in their lives, until this past year. The McGurks bought the reputable flower shop in January and have since done a remarkable job of maintaining its essence, while expanding its offerings and capabilities. They have begun to expand their market, making Bern’s Flowers & Gifts more than just your average flower shop. Their biggest project so far is Garden’s By Berns – a professional garden service where experts design, install, and maintain your garden
This new gardening initiative recently underwent a branding strategy to help differentiate the two sides of the business by developing a complete website and branding which can be found at gardensbyberns.com. This includes an ‘Urn Club’ program designed to allow for built in stress free convenience, as well as being “the gift that gives all year”. Basically, Bern’s designs four urn inserts relative to each season, with the option of delivering them right to your door and replacing them accordingly.
The McGurks have also increased the gift section. They are now offering more unique and interesting items than before from beautifully ornate handmade fragrance lamps from London, England to Canadian roasted coffee! One of their newest and most interactive additions is the introduction of their garden and floral workshops, where people are encouraged to gain some gardening and arranging insights from the professionals at Berns.
Bern’s Flowers & Gifts is one of the most globally reaching businesses in Alliston as they wire-out orders every day around the world from Tobermory to Timbuktu! For example they have a customer in Australia who calls in regularly to send flowers to family nearby. Sharon & Lachlan are very grateful and appreciative for the loyalty that Bern’s Flowers customers have shown. Customers enjoy being greeted by name and always seem to appreciate advice on all things floral. Be sure to stop by the shop and say hello to the new owners at Bern’s… it really is the ‘Treat of Victoria Street’!