Manchester florist celebrates ten blooming great years since planting the seed

A flourishing florist in the Northern Quarter is celebrating its 10th birthday this weekend.

Northern Flower, on Tibb Street, will be marking the milestone on Saturday, a decade since it opened its doors in 2004.

To mark the occasion, the tenth customer will be surprised with a free bouquet, while all visitors to the shop will receive free macaroons.

Customers could well find themselves in esteemed company as the store has served many celebrities over the years.

Scottish songstress Annie Lennox has bought roses there, which hopefully didn’t leave her complaining of a Thorn in My Side.

And actress Maxine Peake is a loyal customer, with the store providing first night flowers for her as she treads the primrose path to Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Perhaps unexpectedly, scatological Britpop icon Liam Gallagher has been in to order a bunch of flowers for Mother’s Day.

Whether this was an attempt to outdo his estranged brother Noel is unknown, and sadly history does not record if his bouquet included morning glories.

Gallagher’s great 90s rival, Blur’s Damian Albarn has also shopped there, with staff gilding the lily by describing him as ‘so very charming’.

Northern Flower owner Lucy Thorniley also recalls one of her stranger assignments was providing flowers for the wedding of glamour model Jodie Marsh.

No shrinking violet, Marsh ordered a room full of flowers to feature in her reality TV show Jodie Marsh: Who will take her up the aisle?

Although she values celebrity clients, Lucy is keen to point out that she most appreciates the grass roots support of the local community.

She said: “We are most proud to have been serving the loyal, local community of residents and businesses all this time.

“It was tough during the recession. People were really watching what they were spending.

“Now things have noticeably getting better and people are being more spontaneous. £15 bouquets used to be the norm. Now people will regularly buy £50 bunches of flowers as presents.”

As well as the green shoots of economic recovery, the store has also been helped by anti-social elements of the Northern Quarter being weeded out in the decade since the budding business opened.

Lucy told MM how 10 years ago the area was in danger of going to seed.

“Ten years ago the area was still quite rough. There were some streets in the Northern Quarter people were wary to venture down,” she added.

“But there’s been a great improvement, and it’s now going from strength to strength while maintaining its quirkiness.

“Things are now much more bustling with a lot more local residents passing through which of course is great for us.

“We’ve become the cool part of town. I think we got in at just the right time. It was lucky.”

In addition to flowers the botanical business has branched out into selling plants also offering gifts including cakes, candles, cards and a range of ‘friendly garden gnomes’.

There is some favouritism when it comes to the products they sell.

Lucy said: “People love our chili plants. They look great and they’ve got a double purpose as you can eat them.

“But the traditional English flowers have always been popular. Brides love peonies and we sell loads of lilies and English roses”.

Romance has always been good for florists with Lucy estimating her staff have decorated over 300 weddings and sold 35,000 roses over the last ten years.

Valentine’s Day can also provide a sudden spike in business/

She added: “We just count on men being late. Not all men of course – but a lot seem to completely forget about Valentine’s Day.

“They’re completely oblivious to the fact that every shop window has been advertising it for the last two months, and they come rushing in at the last minute.

“After 10 years I’ve just learnt to calculate for the increase and we order in extra stock in the run up.

“I remember one man came in and just said ‘Quick, I need some flowers! I don’t care what they are but my girlfriend told me to get them, and said I had to buy them from this shop.’ So it’s nice that I’ve developed a brand!”

Image courtesy of Duncan Hull, via Flickr, with thanks

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