Shop local for flowers; you might be surprised

Family flower shop adds coffee shop to amenities

Kassie Pinard, center, and Lisa Pinard-Richard inside Pinard’s Florist & Gifts

AYER – Imagine all of the times one needs to get flowers: A boyfriend rushing to grab some roses to make up for a late date. Kids grabbing a collection of violets to surprise their mom for Mother’s Day. Folks picking out a display to bring to a funeral in honor of a beloved family member or friend. Flowers can be bought anywhere from the grocery store to Amazon in the quickest way possible.

But are you missing something by not buying flowers in a flower shop?

Maybe it’s the ability to ask a person for a customized bouquet?

Or the conversation you have with a florist about the occasion for the flowers or what you want to express with the right-colored petals?

Or, in the case of Pinard’s Florist & Gifts, a cup of Red Barn coffee?

All of that — and more recently the latter — has been offered at the family-owned flower shop on Central Avenue.

First opened in March 1991, the shop was recently renovated to serve as both a flower and coffee shop. The business sells brews of Red Barn coffee along with pastries and the usual displays of floral arrangements.

Lisa Pinard-Richard, the founder and owner of Pinard’s, said the recent renovation to the shop is actually the third face-lift done to the building that was formerly a garage. The first happened in 1991 with the addition of two swinging doors at the center of the front entrance and a brick patio outside. The second, in 1999, featured the inclusion of a fireplace to the left wall of the shop and moving the front entrance to the right. The third renovation that created the coffee section was finished last October.

“Things change,” Pinard-Richard said. “We had a carpet in here the first two times, and with the coffee shop, hardwood flooring was much better to go with. When we first opened up, we sold a lot of garden-setting stuff. So then we went away from the garden center and became strictly a flower shop.”

She would certainly know about the changing floral industry being in it for 30 years. The origins of Pinard’s actually tie into another family business: Pinard’s Landscaping, owned by her brothers, Jim and Mark Pinard.

“I was working for someone else at the time and putting a lot of hours in,” Pinard-Richard said. “The opportunity just came and we said, ‘Let’s open up our own.’ You can be creative, but a smile on people’s faces. I find it very rewarding.”

Time has changed many industries over the years and, in Pinard-Richard’s experience, the floral business is no exception.

“The overall perspective of flowers, where you can buy them at a supermarket or go online to order them,” she said. “They give the florist new challenges.”

What Pinard’s Florist & Gifts has in its favor, aside from muffins and a fresh brew to enjoy with the store’s homey decor, is connection with customers.

“We pride ourself on customer service,” Pinard-Richard said. “You can buy a rose anywhere, but it’s the service you get with it that matters. When you call us, you can ask us what we have in stock, what we’d suggest and types of flowers people like. Where if you’re online, you’re looking at a picture and we get that over the computer and we might not have that. It’s that one-on-one talking with a person to be able to know exactly what they’re getting.”

Kassie Pinard, Lisa’s sister-in-law and fellow florist, said that the idea for a coffee shop was to increase foot traffic in the store in an “out-of-the-box” way. The comfortable furniture and displays in the store are meant for customers to, as Pinard said, “relax” and enjoy the environment.

“Who wants to go into the grocery store to get sympathy arrangements? At least here, you get to talk to people one-on-one,” Pinard said.

“We don’t want the Dunkin’ Donuts rush,” Pinard-Richard said. “We don’t mind that — they can come get a coffee and go. But we’d like them to just enjoy it.”