by Jenny

I had tried everything I could think of to make the business work, but when the second hand bookshop across the road shut up shop, I had to concede it was a heavy blow.

The once vibrant street became a vague cluster of boarded-up shops fronts, gaggles of squalid pigeons and a handful of convenience stores selling cheap pornography and cigaretttes. My gleaming, colourful window displays looked odd and out of place in the encroaching greyness.

When my mother had run Full Bloom it had nestled happily among bookshops and cafes and pretty boutiques. These days people went into town or bought everything online. I had tried all sorts to entice the customers inside, from interesting flower arrangements - roses in teapots and geraniums in top hats, that sort of thing - to full -on garden supplies, stocking rakes and nematodes and even dried herbs. Nothing worked.

I was about to give up hope entirely when the vape shop opened next door. Their posters of cars and busty ladies did not really go with my carefully contrived cottagecore aesthetic, and the clouds of sticky sweet vapour wafting out of their doors all day was more than off-putting.

Still, it was nice to have some company. And the lads who ran it were nice enough. Joe and Adam were in their late twenties and had pooled their savings to make a go of the vape shop. They would come out and say hello when I was washing the windows, or they’d help me shift some of the heavier stock. They never convinced me to take up the vaping, but I did pop in for a cup of tea and a chat every now and then.

But a vape shop and a florist-cum-garden shop were not enough to save our ailing high street and, unless something changed soon, we’d both go under.

It was Adam who put the idea in my head first. He’d made us a pot of tea and was talking to me about his raving days back in the nineties. Of course, I was far too old to have been a part of that. He talked about how everyone would be so happy, dancing and hugging, how he wished that a little bit of that happiness could creep into everyone’s life all the time.

And then it struck me. A vape shop and a florist-cum-garden shop were not enough to save the high street - unless they combined forces somehow and made something for the greater good...

It’s been eighteen months now since we launched Bloomin’ Lovely, our herbal high cafe and we have quite the mix of clientele. Everyone is usually happy and very relaxed and you get people chatting who’d never normally cross paths. It’s really lovely to watch. It’s even started to breathe some life back into the high street - I think a new bookshop is opening soon across the road. I will enjoy that.

Full Bloom is not the quaint little florists my mother started in the forties, but it’s certainly evolved and blossomed into something a little bit different and maybe, this way, it will survive to see the next big change.