A dream come true

Holly Carper, owner and designer at Carper's Florist in Front Royal, arranges a candle centerpiece. She said candle centerpieces are very popular this time of year. Photo by Henry Culvyhouse

FRONT ROYAL — When Holly Carper was 17, she graduated high school and took her first steps into the workforce. Her mother found a newspaper classified ad for a florist assistant and got Holly to make the call.

“She was like, ‘you need a job’ so I called the florist, came in on a Friday to do an arrangement, then got the call Saturday that she wanted me to start work Monday,” Carper said.

Carper continued, “I guess mom knew something, because I really enjoy this line of work. It’s not a job to me, it’s a passion. I don’t even feel like I’m working.”

Thirteen years later, Carper is in business with her husband Dave at Carper’s Florist. Opening Dec. 3 at 8498 Winchester Road in Front Royal, Carper said starting her own shop was three years in the making.

“It’s always been the dream to open my own shop and putting it into effect this year is amazing,” Carper said.

Carper offers arrangements of fresh and artificial flowers for all events, from the holiday season to weddings to birthdays or gifts for an ill friend. Dave Carper said he has even had a couple of troubled husbands come in for a dozen roses to smooth things over with their wives.

Dave Carper, a former restaurant manager, describes himself as a “delivery boy and a paper pusher” for the business. Carper said owning a business is also a dream come true.

“Owning your own business is the American dream,” Carper said. “It takes a lot of work, you have to take a lot of chances, but it’s definitely a good feeling to be your own boss.”

Carper said he credits the store’s success to its location.

“We’ve had a lot of customers come in and say they love how we’re right outside of town and how accessible we are,” Carper said. “We are able to serve Front Royal, Strasburg, Stephens City and Middletown from this location.”

Holly Carper said the biggest challenge for her business has been keeping up with demand.

“We had an open house when we opened up and they just about cleared us out,” Carper said. “That’s a good thing, of course, but keeping up with the demand can be a little hectic.”

Carper said she expects business to really pick up in January, when bridal shows start hitting the area.

“January is when the brides start thinking about the wedding, when you have bride expos and things like that,” Carper said. “We’ve already had a few brides inquire this month.”

Carper said one of the things she enjoys the most about her shop is the open work space, where customers can watch her arrange flowers.

“At the old shop, I was in the back arranging flowers, so it was kind of depressing,” Carper said. “Here, people can watch me create, which they really love to watch, and I can look out the window and interact more with customers.”

Carper said she buys her flowers from wholesalers in Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania, however she hopes to start supporting local flower growers in the summertime.

“I have a few friends who grow flowers locally, so I’d like to help them out when the seasons change,” Carper said. “Buying locally is important for my business, so I think it’s important to support their businesses as well.”

Carper said the aspect she likes the most about floristry is interacting with the customers.

“I love being able to hear their ideas, their vision for what they want, then taking that vision and making it happen,” Carper said. “I love seeing the looks on their faces when they see how the arrangement turned out.”

Carper’s Florist is located at 8498 Winchester Road in suite 140 in Front Royal. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and is open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com