Flowers and plants blossom in every inch, and every crevice, of GJ House Flowers and Gifts. A flower and convenience shop in the heart of New Westminster, it’s a local favourite for housing an assortment of goods and flowers.
Inside the store, there are crates of succulents vivaciously growing beneath a tray of Cadbury chocolate bars. The shop’s windows, adorned with leafy hanging plants, are more garden than glass. Life, peeks out from every corner, as potted orchids and herbs line the shelves.
This enchanting store found at 714 Columbia Street close to Begbie, belongs to the friendly and hardworking husband and wife duo, Gary and Jane, who have run GJ House for 17 years.
“I’ve always wanted to be a businesswoman,” Jane shares, “I kept an open mind though. I believe it’s important to try different things when you’re young.” Gary nods, “I’ve always loved working with people and making personal connections.”
Almost on cue, a woman walks in the store and before she says what she’d like to buy, Gary walks to the fridge lined with colorful cans of soda and asks, “Hey! A coke for today?” “You know it.” She nods.
Returning to our interview, Gary smiles and looks around the store, “It used to only be a convenience store. It was Jane’s idea to turn it into a flower shop.” When I ask Jane why, she replies, “A florist is like an artist. With my hands, I can create something out of nothing.” She gestures towards a beautiful bouquet of flowers, one of many that is stored in the back, as they cater for many different occasions – including weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. “It’s very rewarding.”
Gary clasps his hands together, “There are hard times though.” “Flowers are seasonal, there are times when there aren’t a lot of traffic.”
“When the brides send us pictures of their special day with the bouquets we made, it reminds us why we do this.” Jane says, “We like to help people out. When we have brides who have a low-budget, we lower the prices.”
Unsurprisingly, most of GJ House’s business comes from referrals instead of advertising - happy customers often come back to visit, and bring along their friends.
As I write down the last few words of the interview, I feel truly inspired by the humble couple’s kindness, talent, and genuine desire to make a difference in the best way they can. Gary points to a glass and excitedly exclaims, “Did you know those were just delivered from Hawaii?” “Hawaii?” I look at the feather-like stalks of tropical buds. “Yep.” “You put them near a window, and they’ll open up and bloom!”
When I leave, I realize that GJ House is more than just a neighbourhood shop. It holds a greater purpose. Amidst a fast-paced world where people seldom stop to look around, GJ House reminds you to stop, and smell the roses.