Starting summer with a bang

Atwood Florist a rare combination of flowers, fireworks

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Atwood Florist owner John Dick saw seven years ago that business was dipping during the months of July and August.

That sparked an idea.

Dick decided to add fireworks to his stock from June until early July, and sales have exploded ever since. He said he sells to plenty of graduates and brides who are looking to add some flare to events like parties and beach weddings.

Even surprised customers who stumble upon the fireworks at 1041 Atwood Ave. usually end up leaving with some sparklers in tow.

“So I’ve got a little market there with the brides and the grads, and then once that kicks off … that will go into Fourth of July customers,” Dick said. “I go up to about $20,000 in sales, so [there is] a lot of traffic. I’m proud of it.”

Dick said summer sales tend to slow down because the prom and school dance season has ended, and fewer weddings are held during the warmer months. The period from September to June typically brings the “big push” for flowers, which led Dick to get creative for July and August.

“In the summer, they’re doing their own gardening, they’re on vacation, they’re preoccupied with other things,” Dick said. “When they come back, it’s the babysitters, the daycares, the teachers, the dances, you know, it just goes right into the holidays.”

Last July was difficult, Dick said, because the Fourth was on a Wednesday. That led to a conundrum of whether to celebrate on the weekend before or after, but this year he won’t experience that issue. The Fourth falls on a Thursday this year, and Dick anticipates people taking Friday off en masse for the long weekend.

There’s a product for everyone, too – from the curious newcomer to the firework aficionado – and prices range from $1.99 to $350. The latter price tag applies to the new Backyard Bash, which features dozens of items and stands almost as tall as a person.

Most often, though, Dick will see customers gravitate toward the $100 Backyard Barrage, an assortment package that fits “a good price point for a lot of people.” Other top-sellers include Crown Jewels and Komodo Dragons, which can last upwards of six minutes and are suitable for grand finales to wrap up firework shows.

He said some customers don’t even purchase the products for themselves. Dick recalled one repeat buyer of both flowers and fireworks who will buy an assortment every year for the kids in her neighborhood.

“She buys flowers all the time,” Dick said. “[She says] ‘I’m going to get my assortment package for the children.’ And she has no children of her own, but she loves to see them enjoy it so she buys a package every year, an assortment, just for the neighbors to do it. Everybody likes it.”

Dick – who has been running the business for 25 years – is no stranger to competition. Despite the fact that he starts earlier than most sellers, he stills competes with local supermarkets and tents popping up across town.

Dick has his committed clientele, though. One of his most popular flower products is the $5 love bunch, which includes baby’s breath, carnations and daisies in a wrap. When customers cross the threshold and see what else he has in stock, though, the reactions can leave Dick laughing.

“They’re like, ‘What are you doing? Fireworks?’” Dick said, with a chuckle. “But they know I’m still the florist, but they are taken aback and they still look. And they end up picking up some sparklers or something.”

He originally operated the fireworks portion of the business in front of his home, but asked the town if he could move it inside when setup and cleanup became too arduous.

Now, Atwood Florist is home to more than just plants, but also the sparkling spectacles that have become synonymous with almost any summer celebration.

“Normally, the fireworks all come 11 days before the Fourth,” Dick said. “That’s kind of a standard, but because I don’t have to pay for the tent and the tables … all they have to do is ship it to me. So they allow me to do it a little earlier. I just try to get that jump.”

Ironically, Dick didn’t have much interest in fireworks growing up, but it has turned into a lucrative venture. However, he admitted that he was warmed up to fireworks, and he even partakes in the festivities as well.

“We have a lake house in Maine, so I’ll bring some up there and bring them on the lake,” Dick said. “You've got to have a little ambience to go with it.”

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