After 27 years in business Brenda Lee has turned her flower snips over to another florist.
Jessi Martin is the new owner of The Orchid on West Street in Corner Brook.
Martin grew up in Pasadena and now lives in Corner Brook. She spent a few years teaching in Korea before moving back to Newfoundland and in the last few years she’s worked in retail and at a bank.
She first got to know Lee after she and her husband moved into the apartment above the shop about four years ago.
About two years ago the two had a conversation about retiring and entrepreneurship that kind of set things in motion for Martin to take over the business.
“I think it’s quite kismet for her and I to meet,” she said. “I’ve always loved flowers and always wanted to own my own business.”
After spending some time helping around the shop last year it was decided that Martin would join the staff full time. It would be a way for her to learn the business with Lee as her mentor and for both women to see if the change in ownership would work.
“It’s Brenda’s baby and so she wanted to make sure it went to someone who wanted to carry it on in the way that she did.”
Things went so well that in January, ahead of the timeline they had set, Martin officially became The Orchid’s new owner.
Thirty-five years ago Lee had $6,000 when she went to a bank looking to borrow more to start the shop, which has become a fixture on the street.
Now with rental properties on the block that take up a lot of her time, she said the timing to sell felt right.
“I’ve had my day doing it,” said Lee.
She just wanted to make sure she found the right person to take over.
“I always felt that if I found someone that was a hard worker, that could carry it on, then I’d step back.”
Lee said the floral industry involves a lot of hard work — lifting buckets, long hours on your feet and a lot of worry about the flowers and if they’ll be in good shape when they arrive.
She’s happy to say that she found what she was looking for in Martin.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jessi and I think she’s going to do really, really well.
“I thought it was going to be really, really difficult to leave it, but I think I really made the right decision.”
Martin completed a floral design course over the last year and now that’s she the owner she’s learning more of the business side of things.
“It’s a totally different thing once it’s yours and you’re responsible for every little detail,” she said. “I think there couldn’t be a better job for me.