SNOWMASS VILLAGE --For 20 years, Susan McNamara has owned and operated Wildflowers on the second floor of the Snowmass Village Mall next door to the Snowmass Village Salon.
Months ago, it looked as if Wildflowers was going to close because of the Silvertree remodeling into a Westin hotel. A large ski-tuning operation moved into the former space of the salon, and the salon moved into the space Wildflowers had occupied for nearly 20 years.
A solution was found, and three former storage spaces for the Silvertree and old Cowboy's restaurant were converted into Wildflowers' new home "with a lot of blood, sweat and tears," according to
Wildflowers was originally located in Aspen in the old Hotel Jerome, and it was owned by Susan Brady. McNamara began working for Brady when she arrived in the Roaring Fork Valley in 1980. She and husband Michael McNamara had moved to Aspen to housesit a blue Victorian at the top of Red Mountain for her husband's sister, and she got a job at Wildflowers five days after moving here.
"I had never been a florist before I started at Wildflowers," McNamara said, "but I had a green thumb, in fact two of them, and I liked flowers."
In 1983, Brady was ready to move on from Wildflowers, and she presented McNamara with a proposition: Either go on unemployment or buy the business. McNamara bought Wildflowers and moved it to the Ajax Mountain building.
When the florist that owned the small flower space at the Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass suddenly moved away, they offered the space to McNamara, who had previously been working with the Silvertree's conference services department to provide flower arrangements at the Snowmass Conference Center.
"The parking and the rent in Aspen was something I didn't like," McNamara said. "Most of my business is over the phone, so when the Silvertree offered the space to me with a good deal on the rent, I moved to Snowmass."
Susan's longtime friend Kerry Scrivens has been Wildflowers' manager for 30 years.
"Susie encouraged me to move to Aspen in 1981," Scrivens said. "We worked together in the '70s in a little country inn in Vermont and have been good friends ever since."
When McNamara isn't in the shop, she likes to get out and ski, hike, raft or garden.
"The mountains are one of the things about Snowmass that I love," said McNamara. "And it's so easy to pop out and ski or hike for an hour."
She and her husband Michael, who is a builder and works as a bartender at Krabloonik, have a 15-year-old son Chris, as well as Abby, a friendly blond Labrador. They live in Snowmass Village because she finds it easier to live and work in Snowmass, and then drive into Aspen for deliveries.
Michael built the new Wildflowers shop along with Susan. They used reclaimed barn wood on the walls, while the floor is constructed from recycled tires.
According to McNamara, about 75 to 80 percent of Wildflowers' business is call-in. The rest is walk-in. Many of their call-in
orders are referrals from Snowmass hotels or lodges.
Wildflowers is open year-round. "People don't stop having birthdays or anniversaries because it's the offseason," said Scrivens.
Not too surprisingly, the biggest holiday for flowers is Valentine's Day.
"One day is like two weeks of Christmases, and you can't be a day late," said McNamara.
Wildflowers gets its flowers from wholesalers in Denver, and they have them flown in from flower-growing regions like Columbia, Ecuador, Holland, Hawaii and California. When possible, they use Colorado flowers like sunflowers and peonies from producers in Palisade.
When they are filling an order, they begin by asking several questions: What's the occasion? How much do you want to spend? Do they have a favorite flower or a favorite color? From there, McNamara and Scrivens get to work. One of the first decisions is what container to use for the arrangement. The particular occasion and what flowers are in the cooler also dictate what the arrangement is going to look like.
"Asking the right questions lets us get a feel for what the client wants," Scrivens said.
While some Snowmass clients might come in and spend several hundred dollars on an arrangement, the ladies at Wildflowers do not want to alienate the local service worker who might only have $20 to $30 to spend, so they will work with them to give the best service possible.
McNamara is betting that Wildflowers will be in Snowmass for years to come. She recently signed a long-term lease with Starwood, which owns and operates the Westin Hotel and the associated retail businesses.
Steve Alldredge is a former associate editor/reporter for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.