When Tricia Bechtelheimer opens her floral and gift shop on East Liberty Street in downtown Brooksville each morning, she is prepared for anything. Finalizing arrangements for a wedding, birthday party or other planned event is usually always on the schedule. But random situations, like the birth of a baby or an unexpected death can change the entire atmosphere of her quaint downtown shop.
How does she keep her mantra in a sea of constant change?
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” she said with a smile.
Indeed Westover’s Flowers & Gifts provided the cheerful color to many special occasions, some positive steps toward promising futures while others become somber reminders of life’s precious gifts. Many brides and grooms have exchanged their vows with a backdrop of fresh seasonal arrangements, their wedding parties carrying custom bouquets of Westover’s finest creativity and passion.
One of her many talents is the ability to turn on a dime, Bechtelheimer said. But her strong bonds to a community that has helped her stay afloat for more than 30 years has something to do with why she puts her heart and soul into her business.
Bechtelheimer purchased Westover’s practically out of college when the original owner decided to sell. She worked for Mrs. Westover at the time as a florist.
“I was 22,” she said. “I worked for a flower shop in Gainesville when I was in college. I just loved working with flowers.”
Bechtelheimer purchased the building where her shop sits now in 1996 and leased out a portion to The Paper Porch and Mallie Kyla’s. The building has a southern charm, offering a snippet of how shopping once was in downtown Brooksville.
Bechtelheimer smiled when remembering some of the tougher times as the economy dipped. “We felt it when the real estate market crashed,” she said. “But we innovated, cut out the FTD Wireless ordering and focused on our local customers.”
Detaching from FTD was difficult at first, Bechtelheimer remembered. But after a few years, the shop had adjusted and built a reputation as a friendly local shop with heart and passion for its work. Her for the FTD service was more than she could justify.
The shop has since broadened to include gifts and collectables to it’s line of unique containers and assorted packaging for its customized floral arrangements.
Bechtelheimer is also an event planner, making Westover’s a one-stop shop for weddings, receptions and parties. The staff can assist with nearly every detail of that special occasion.
In her 33 years, Bechtelheimer has become connected to her customers, some of which have brought four generations into her shop. She has been a part of their weddings, new babies, birthday parties and funerals. It’s difficult sometimes to work with the same client on both ends of the spectrum.
However, Bechtelheimer feels honored to be a part of the healing that follows a loss.
“Flowers at funerals are so important,” she said. “Every funeral should have flowers, even if the budget is small. They give (those grieving) something beautiful to focus on.”
In fact, Bechtelheimer believes every occasion that prompts a floral purchase should come from a specialized shop. She will help find the most beautiful arrangement for any occasion or budget.
Bechtelheimer cautions those who purchase their arrangements online. With Mother’s Day this weekend, many will flock to place their order quickly to avoid missing out on one of the most popular gifts for out-of-town moms.
Many that are listed aren’t physical shops, she said. If buying from a local established shop is important, then consumers should be careful to research where they place their orders. Also, many fees are often tacked on to online orders, making the purchase cost much more than the flowers are worth.
Buying local from a reputable merchant also helps personalize the purchase. Westover’s staff does whatever they can to put that special touch into each custom order.
“We are held accountable for what we send out and we are very proud of what we do,” Bechtelheimer said. “Our flowers are hand-picked, they’re fresh and we take good care of them prior to them going to the customer. Our prices may be a little higher but you get a lot more for you’re money.”