Alison Brunelle stands outside of her Four Seasons Flower Shop on its final day of business on Saturday, June 29, 2019. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Last of the small time florists in Prince Rupert

Alison Brunelle of Four Seasons Flowers hangs up her shears after decades of service and memories

A Prince Rupert staple for decades, Saturday, June 29 marked the final day of existence for popular floral shop Four Seasons Flowers.

Owner and operator Alison Brunelle was on hand until the very end to take final orders and say her goodbyes, both to the store and the customers who had been part of the long journey.

With its doors first opening at the mall in 1975, Four Seasons has been an important part of the community for the past 44 years. Originally founded and operated by Brunelle’s mother, Alison returned from school to take over operations when her mother passed away in 1982. Thinking she would hold the role for just a few years, before she knew it the shop was a full time career.

“I realized how lucky I was to have this handed to me,” said Brunelle.

Brunelle raised a family in town, and shortly after the turn of the millenium moved the business to its current location on Third Avenue. “At the time I thought I would like to get out of the business because the mall had no fresh air,” said Brunelle. “But once I came up here I got this gorgeous window, and I got this daylight and I got to see City Hall.”

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The Four Seasons van prepares to rest after a countless number of deliveries. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Operating as the lone small florist in town, Brunelle was able to develop a deep connection with her clientele. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and more all became intimate occasions between Brunelle and her customers.

“Every year we look for the same customers. And we’d say we can’t go home until they come in,” said Brunelle.

Before long, Brunelle wouldn’t even need to meet her clients in person to make sure the final order was perfect.

“I did most of my business over the phone,” said Brunelle. “I could have no one in here for days and the phone would be going. That was a good business.”

The many memories made during Four Seasons’ run was made clear by the reactions when it was time to say goodnight to the shop.

“I’ve had people standing in here crying. And if they cry, I cry,” said Brunelle.

Alison Brunelle stands in her cooler with one of her last remaining flower arrangements. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Another lifelong relationship made during her time at the store was with co-worker, and now close friend, Lizette Croft. Croft began working at Four Seasons around 15 years ago, and today her and Brunelle are perfectly in sync.

“When a customer comes to me we’d just look at each other and know what they’d want,” said Croft. “I knew it was bad when she started finishing my sentences,” added Brunelle.

Every floral pairing was carefully and thoughtfully crafted put together. “Alison was very renowned for her windows,” said Croft. “It was always an attraction, everyone always looked forward to the change to the next one.”

Keeping up with what is in vogue was no easy task though. “The designs, the colours, the trends all change,” explained Brunelle. “Every year I go to a show to learn more. I’ve been to Oklahoma doing courses, and I found when I went to Europe I learned so much just walking around and going into the shops.”

READ MORE: Growing in full sun at the Prince Rupert Plant and Flower Market

Those seeking floral arrangements in town are now reliant on the grocery stores. A nice grouping is still possible, but the personal touch of a dedicated florist is now gone. Brunelle appreciates this will be difficult for her customers, but says the time was right to move on.

The small town florist era in Prince Rupert has come to an end. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

“The business is still doing good. I’m fortunate, I’m not closing because I’m not busy. I’m closing because I want to be let loose and fancy free for a few years.”

“I appreciate Rupert, the people blow me away all the time,” Brunelle concluded. “It’s been an incredible run.”

Alex Kurial | Journalist
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