Business blooming at Wolff's Flower Shop

The temperature outside, not to mention the snow cover, seems to say otherwise, but spring is definitely in full bloom inside Wolff's Flower Shop on Tower Avenue.

Wolff's Flower Shop owner Laura Laberdie enjoys the way all colors work together in floral arrangements, and demonstrates it by pairing fuchsia stargazer lilies with burgundy alstromeria. (Dana Kazel)

The temperature outside, not to mention the snow cover, seems to say otherwise, but spring is definitely in full bloom inside Wolff's Flower Shop on Tower Avenue.

Fresh-cut flowers in colors ranging from soft pastels to vibrant tropical brights fill the coolers, while blooming plants, artificial flowers, decorative vases and balloons adorn the walls and free-standing displays.

From the back room, where employees are busy cutting and arranging everything from tiny boutonnieres to large floral arrangements, comes a mix of delightful fragrances that prove the freshness of the blooms with which they work.

Overseeing it all is owner Laura Laberdie, a self-taught florist who began working at Wolff's in high school. She worked there for 10 years before purchasing the store herself when the previous owner decided to pursue a new venture. That was in 1981.

Thirty years later, she's still there, often working seven days a week. It's the flowers, and the pride in what she does that makes it all worthwhile.


"It's always interesting. It's always challenging," said Laberdie. "The day goes by really fast and it's nice to be proud of your product when it goes out the door.

"I like roses and lilies," said Laberdie, when asked to identify her favorites. "I like all flowers and all colors really, though. There really isn't anything I don't like. It's interesting that all colors go together. People sometimes think you can't put this and this together. But when you make something, all colors really do work together, like a garden. You know how a garden is a whole mixture and it looks pretty?"

With a staff of five, including Laberdie, the majority of Wolff's Flower Shop's business is fresh-cut flower arrangements. That includes everything from gift bouquets to arrangements for weddings and funerals.

The Christmas season, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are the busiest times.

Another business-boosting event is just around the corner -- Superior High School's prom is April 9.

On average 80 to 100 of the corsages, along with the matching boutonnieres, will be Wolff's Flower Shop creations.

Interestingly, it's the girls and their mothers who place most prom orders.

Laberdie advises prom-goers to shop early for best choices, and to allow her and her staff enough time to do the best job possible.


"What we do is very labor intensive. It takes us time to make each thing," said Laberdie. "Everyone now is very last minute and wants it immediately. I have a huge amount of fresh-cut flowers on hand, but they are perishable, so it's hard to have everything everyone wants all the time."

The staff at Wolff's likes to talk with customers to get the best idea of what they like and want. It's an expensive way to do business, but Laberdie can't imagine doing it any other way.

"You might spend 45 minutes to an hour selling a $29 item, and you haven't even made it yet," she said. "Whether it's a $25 item or a $125 item, you spend time with the customer, and there's kind of no way around that. We honestly do care about everything we make.

"There's a lot of hard work involved," she said. "I think people think that you come in and pull it off the shelf, and you don't. It's all hand-made. And you don't go home until it's done and you never know day to day how busy you're going to be."

Most of the flowers at Wolff's arrive via refrigerated truck from wholesalers in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Some originate from as far away as South America.

As for current trends, lilies are especially popular right now; specifically oriental lilies such as star gazers, or white lilies. The large blooming flower is as versatile as it is fragrant, making it the choice for arrangements at occasions ranging from anniversaries to funerals.

Roses, of course, remain ever popular.

"Roses are a wonderful staple," said Laberdie. "Men know to ask for roses. However, men also know to ask for lilies."


Approximately 40 percent of their orders come from walk-in customers. The other 60 percent comes from phone and Internet orders. Wolff's is open Monday-Saturday, and will make special deliveries for funerals on Sundays. Laberdie enjoys being part of the Superior business community.

"We have a wonderful clientele in Superior."

She smiled when asked how her life and career would have ended up if she hadn't gotten the job at Wolff's back in high school.

"If I was to do something different, I'd pick something that wasn't perishable," she laughed. "That's the hard part, knowing what colors, and how much each day. It's very different all the time."

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