ADDISON – In the midst of the thick blanket of snow covering Addison and temperatures that seem more frequently below zero than above, Larry Bollmann has created a small oasis on Lake Street.
“It’s got to be one of the better jobs especially with this winter,” Bollmann said.
The scent of fresh flowers fills the warm store front of Addison Floral, which Bollmann, opened nearly 40 years ago. His passion for floral design began during a high school class where he started working in a greenhouse. He then decided to pursue his newfound passion at the American Floral Arts School.
He shares his passion with Addison Trail High School and the community every year with an annual flower show, which funds the school’s horticultural program and scholarships.
After almost 40 years at the store he owns with his wife, Cathy, Bollmann’s favorite part is still designing.
“Flowers say so much,” he said. “They have their own language.”
He explained how he matches flowers for specific occasions. Red roses show love, white roses purity, and yellow can be friendship or even jealousy. In any color, the rose is always the most popular purchase year round.
“Valentine’s Day, it’s a little bit tricky,” Bollmann said.
The shop gets roses from Ecuador, where the weather is better, but transporting them requires special care.
“You’ve got to wrap them up like babies,” Bollmann said.
Valentine’s is one of his busiest holidays, but Mother’s Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving are still big in the business. What’s really changed over the past few decades is the decline in everyday flower purchases just because.
“Weddings are a lot of fun,” he said.
Even with Pinterest fans always presenting their ready-made ideas, Bollmann enjoys the creative freedom weddings give him. He likes listening to customers and helping them create what they’re envisioning.
“If there’s anything that’s changed in the business over the years, it’s the personal touch with the customers, because everything now is done on the computer, “ Bollmann said.
He enjoys the long-time relationships he’s built with employees and customers. He supplied flowers for the daughter’s and granddaughter’s weddings of a long-time customer.
“We have loyal customers,” Bollmann said.
While the store still gets visitors, many of its orders come in through the store’s website. Addison Floral is a member of Teleflora, which fills orders – even internationally – with local florists like Bollmann.
In addition, Bollmann is a member of Metro Chicago Florist Delivery Co-Op. The 26-member group meets six mornings a week in Chicago and exchanges deliveries. This way, Bollmann’s flowers can be delivered to the loop or Deerfield and he delivers orders from other shops that are going to Addison.
In the midst of the plethora of colors, textures and Bollmann’s creative spirit, the florist still thinks the flower business has a simple message at its core, no matter the occasion.
“People don’t realize how much joy a bouquet of flowers can bring,” he said.