Shelton store destroyed by fire opens in new location

Petal Pusher Florist owner: ‘I still can’t believe what happened’

Florist shop owner Annie Hwang sits inside the new location for Petal Pusher Florist, a Shelton business impacted by the downtown fire in early January.

Florist shop owner Annie Hwang sits inside the new location for Petal Pusher Florist, a Shelton business impacted by the downtown fire in early January.

 

A Shelton business that lost its home in the massive downtown Shelton fire on Jan. 6 has reopened in a new location.

Petal Pusher Florist has moved just across the river, to 6 Elizabeth St., Derby.

“I was determined to keep the business open,” said owner Annie Hwang, who reopened in the new location a few weeks ago.

“I had to do something; I had to find a new place or I just would have kept being sad,” Hwang said.

Hwang is hoping many of her longtime customers will continue to use the shop for their flower needs.

She settled on the Derby storefront, across the street from Derby City Hall, after not being able to find a suitable spot in Shelton, where the shop had built up a loyal customer base.

“I tried to find the right location in Shelton, looking all over to find a new place, but couldn’t find the right space,” said Hwang, who has enjoyed meeting many new people in Derby.

 

Been in business for 20 years

The flower shop has been in business for two decades, having been started by Sherry Masson. Hwang had worked for Masson and then purchased the business three years ago.

“It was always my dream to own a florist shop,” Hwang said.

The store has five employees, including delivery people, and is affiliated with FTD, Teleflorist and 1-800-Flowers. It sells fresh and silk flowers, fruit and gourmet baskets, plants and some small gifts.

 

Fire: ‘I was very shocked’

On Jan. 6, Hwang didn’t learn about the late-night fire — and the fate of her Howe Avenue store — until watching the morning news. “I was very shocked,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe what was happening, and was very upset and sad.”

The next day she attended a meeting with public officials at the Echo Hose Firehouse organized to assist those directly impacted by the blaze, which destroyed more than a half dozen businesses and 24 residential apartments.

“I still don’t believe what happened,” she said, four months after the fire.

Petal Pusher Florist owner Annie Hwang with Rosemary McClain of Shelton, who works part-time at the store, which has reopened in downtown Derby.

Petal Pusher Florist owner Annie Hwang with Rosemary McClain of Shelton, who works part-time at the store, which has reopened in downtown Derby.

A particularly difficult day was when she visited the fire site during the demolition and cleanup process, and the equipment sorting through the charred debris came upon the big collection of colorful ribbons from her shop. “I was crying then,” she said.

 

Always attracted to flower design

Hwang, who grew up in South Korea, said she has always liked flowers. She studied floral design in Korea and also learned from Masson as well as a florist shop in East Haven where she worked for a decade.

“I love the design part of it,” she said, noting she learned about European-style flower design in particular from Masson.

This week is one of the busiest weeks for the florist industry, with Mother’s Day on Sunday.

Hwang said most people like to buy baskets and vase arrangements for their mothers, sometimes choosing unique containers such a teapots or specific color vases to personalize the gift.

“Pinks and purples are big Mother’s Day colors” Hwang said.

 

Flower-buying occasions

People most often purchase flowers for special events such as anniversaries and birthdays, as well as for holidays, funerals, weddings and parties, she said.

The two biggest flower-giving holidays are Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, while Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter also bring increased activity at flower shops.

 

Learn more about the store at 203-924-2901 or PetalPusherCT.com.

 

 

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