By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
NEW BEDFORD — Ana L. Grochmal says downtown New Bedford is the perfect place to do business and her only regret is she did not move her florist shop from South Dartmouth to downtown sooner.
Ms. Grochmal operates “The White Bouquet,” now at 763 Purchase St., and will formally mark her move into the heart of the city’s business district with a ribbon cutting and brief ceremony today at 5 p.m.
“It has been a whirlwind … fantastic,” Ms. Grochmal said about her first week at the Purchase Street shop.
Ms. Grochmal said her business has traditionally been focused around weddings and other ceremonies along with deliveries, so the influx of foot traffic from downtown came as a somewhat unexpected bonus. She calls her new shop — the only floral business downtown, according to city officials — a “perfect fit” in an “up-and-coming downtown.”
The grand opening is being timed to coincide with AHA! night, whose theme this month is “Changing Facade,” highlighting new and expanded businesses. Mayor Scott W. Lang is expected to officiate at the opening, which Ms. Grochmal said will be a “ribbon cutting (with a) little speech.”
The AHA! night connection is more than coincidence. Ms. Grochmal said a good friend and fellow businesswoman who operates the “Blush Beauty Bar” often teams up with her on providing services to weddings. Her friend invited her downtown for an AHA! night, and when she saw the activity it produces, Ms. Grochmal recounted, she knew she wanted her business in the more vibrant environment.
In South Dartmouth, she said, cars would go “whizzing past” and there was little foot traffic. In downtown New Bedford, she said, people are walking past and there is plenty of parking for people who choose to drive there.
On top of those advantages, Ms. Grochmal said, her rent went down when she moved into New Bedford.
“I wish I had done this years ago,” Ms. Grochmal said. She operated her business in the South Dartmouth store for more than three years.
She and another employee comprise the full-time staff, Ms. Grochmal said, and she is hiring a part-time worker to help out, along with her daughter.
Mayor Lang said a florist shop “complements” the downtown “by bringing in a different type of flavor and energy than other types of retail … it has (its own) creative type of edge.”
“We are welcoming them in … each shop becomes unique to itself,” Mayor Lang said, calling downtown a “hot spot for entrepreneurs” who are “young and creative.”
The White Bouquet’s move downtown was assisted by the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Council Executive Director Matthew A. Morrissey said Ms. Grochmal’s decision to move into the downtown is part of a continuing pattern of businesses coming back to the traditional center of retail commerce in the city.
“We have seen a number of businesses like The White Bouquet that cater to retail customers open downtown, and we expect the trend to continue as the retail, education, arts and entertainment opportunities all contribute to a commercial revival,” Mr. Morrissey said.
Contact Joe Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
May 08, 2008
By Joe Cohen