“We started doing our research and we found this on Craigslist in Southern Ohio,” she said, referring to the 1967 Ford that has served as her place of business for about two years, “so we took a trailer up there and brought it back.”
Now, Julian’s flower business, Charlotte’s Florals, has traded in its wheels for its own brick-and-mortar location at 211 W. Walnut St. The store opened on Sept. 6, and Julian is planning a grand opening on Sept. 28.
Julian said the truck, which she used to take out about four times a week, will continue to be an important part of the business. It will be available to rent for photoshoots, weddings, parties and other gatherings, and she will continue to take it out to events in the area on a less-frequent basis.
The permanent location, however, gives the business a more reliable home base, she said, making it unnecessary for people to track down the truck, and that means Julian’s business and her flowers don’t have to contend with fickle Tennessee weather, especially the withering effects of summer heat.
“We want to use this space for workshops, small gatherings, things like that,” she said, “so I think consistency is key here.”
Charlotte’s Florals is one of a handful of businesses, including Peggy Ann Bakery and Timber!, that have opened in recent months along West Walnut Street, a stretch of road that connects East Tennessee State University to Johnson City’s downtown area.
Johnson City is preparing to redevelop the corridor. City Manager Pete Peterson said in August that the city wants the roadway to feel more like Main Street.
City commissioners reviewed concept plans for the project in August. Peterson said at the time that the he hopes to have construction documents ready in April or May, so the city can put the construction of the project out for bid and fund it in the fiscal year 2021 budget.
“We just saw the growth here in general, and we’re excited for the revitalization of downtown,” Julian said, explaining why the location on West Walnut Street was appealing. “It was just a plus that we were able to find a place for our truck as well.”
The business’s new home at 211 W. Walnut used to be an old service station, Julian said, and her 1967 Ford now sits in the station’s old service bay.
“Mixing that vintage feel with the modernness of flowers, I think they just kind of feed off of each other and work well together,” Julian said. “We love the character of the truck, the character of the building.”
Charlotte’s Florals sources its flowers from a local wholesaler and works with farmers as much as possible.
“We like to offer unique flowers,” Julian said. “Not flowers you can really find at your local grocery store. I think our business is more of an experience than just buying flowers. We price everything per stem so that you can completely customize your bouquet.”
The selection of flowers will change just about every day, Julian said, and customers will have the ability to choose each individual flower from a selection of different options.
“They can take their creative approach to it, or we can put one together for them,” she said.
Julian believes people have started to realize the importance of supporting small businesses.
“I think small business is what makes a community special,” Julian said. “And I think people are realizing that small business, it’s more hands on and people kind of pour their hearts into everything they do.”