New owners enliven century-old Kingston flower shop
by Mimi Quinn
Elizabeth Kelly and Brian Tymon are continuing the legacy of one of Kingston’s oldest and most renowned businesses. The original 1904 brick edifice crowning the building in uptown Kingston may say Burgevin—but now Kelly and Tymon are making the shop blossom with their budding venture Toad Lily at the Burgevin, the florist they launched in September 2010.
They’ve already established that “neighborhood” feeling, being actively involved in the community. They want their shop to be the go-to place for impeccable quality, unique botanical and horticultural expertise, and what’s most important to them, customer service to carry on what the original Burgevin’s was famous for.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to discover the shop’s lovingly created arrangements that exhibit the pure essence of love. Kelly, a retired nurse as well as a wife, mother, and doting grandmother, said their goal is “to make our shop be a welcoming place.”
“We know our customers by name and we know what they like,” she said, adding that they offer a customer appreciation card that gives $25 off a customer’s eleventh purchase.
With windows that shout out to passersby, these two munificent co-owners have an “awareness” window with displays such as last October’s pink presentation for Breast Care Awareness month (Burgevin’s donated a percentage of each pink arrangement ordered to the American Cancer Society).
Kelly noted they also participated in awareness campaigns on Domestic Violence and AIDS. As an American Cancer Society board member, Rotary member, and officer on the Old Dutch Church, Kelly keeps her finger on the pulse of her community. And, not long after opening, their already reputed old-time customer service won the shop the Daily Freeman award in florist “top picks.”
“It’s like an invigorating breath that helps you realize that we must be doing something right,” said Kelly of the award.
As for partner Tymon’s Napa Valley background in wine—he and the Kellys met when he moved to the area and worked at a Rondout area wine shop that they patronized.
“After getting to know them as customers, we began to run into each other in public and we would always have fun conversations and laugh a lot,” Tymon said. But it all came together once Tymon and his life-partner Philip and the Kellys began hosting each other for dinners, brunches, and game nights and the subject of opening a business came up. Initially thinking about a high-end wine shop in the Stockade area, the two couples “were sitting on our front porch on a sultry August Saturday and the idea of a flower shop came up,” he said.
Tymon’s partner mentioned that Burgevin was for lease. They decided to take a look and one month later the pair signed the lease.
Said Tymon: “Liz and I also have very complementary visions and aesthetics. While we often find ourselves grabbing for the same things at market, we also challenge each other to step outside of our comfort zone. And frankly, we usually laugh all day long. You can’t beat a workplace environment like that.”
Moreover, their harmony carries over to the shop’s aura and creativity that they’re able to offer their customers. “We create both traditional and unique arrangements—so we keep a lot of unusual flowers and interesting containers on hand,” Tymon said.
He added that customers may think a dozen carnations or roses in a plain glass vase is what they want—but when he and Kelly suggest something, in the same price range, and more personalized to the recipient that pops with uniqueness, “you’re getting better value and increased impact from your purchase.”
Even if customers have a preconceived idea about what a floral arrangement should look like, this creative team can combine traditional with innovative by simply putting an arrangement into a vintage cocktail shaker. Or as Kelly did for her daughter’s recent baby shower—wrap the arrangement in a feather boa and dangle a silver trinket! Observers say, “Wow—I didn’t know you could do that with flowers!”
In fact Kelly brought that particular arrangement into Burgevin and, as a result, got orders with a similar theme.
Also a painter, Kelly said the two arts are similar; blending colors and textures of individual flowers into arrangements that aesthetically interacts is very similar to painting.
“You start with a base; in flowers it’s the greens, and once they’re arranged in the vase you add the flowers. Each composition takes on a life of its own. Blending a pin cushion protea with a lily or roses works and becomes interesting,” Kelly said, noting that they designed a “bat flower” for a restaurant around Halloween and it’s featured on their website. Kelly and Tymon agree that what’s “key” to them is teaching people that the wow factor doesn’t have to be synonymous with arrangements that cost hundreds of dollars.
“What we do is try to find the most unique, freshest, and long-lasting flowers at the absolute best price possible—and trust me, our flowers bought at 8am on a Wednesday down in Campbell Hall were on a plane from Holland or Central America that landed at Stewart just hours before,” said Kelly.
The pair has also been invited, twice, to be on WKZE’s “The Garden Show” with Sally Spillane to speak of their philosophies on customer service and how flowers and plants can brighten up winter months.
However, one thing they don’t do is use wire floral services. But they have helped customers by placing orders for them or advising them to use the Internet to find businesses with good reviews. They may not get any commissions but Kelly said, “Our goal is to help the customer in any way we can.”
With love starting to waft in the air with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, the “Go-to Florist” should be Burgevin if you really want your relationship to blossom!
Open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 4pm on Saturday. Sundays by appointment; phone voicemails are regularly checked on evenings and Sundays, for urgent needs such as a funeral floral. 845-338-8500.
Find them on Facebook at Toad Lily at the Burgevin (Burgevin Florist, Inc.)