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A small business in a small town – a short story

By Barbara Van Reed

A year-and-a-half ago Dawn Brule opened her Douglas Flower Shoppe on Main Street in Douglas, a friendly and colorful addition to the town’s small downtown area. A cart in front of the shop window carried flower baskets, seasonal decorations, and plants, suggesting the variety of flowers and gifts inside.

Dawn took courses to become a certified floral arranger. She joined a floral delivery service. She contributed to Douglas’ downtown holiday spirit, making the bows for the Lighting on the Common at Christmas. Last October she joined the national Petal-it-Forward movement, giving downtown pedestrians and residents two bouquets, one to keep and one to give to someone else.

In June, Dawn joined hundreds of others at the Buzz-Off for Kids with Cancer event at Gillette Stadium, shaving her head in support of kids with cancer, raising more than $1,000 for the cause, and dealing with less than a full head of hair all summer long.

Dawn spoke about plans to collaborate with other local wedding and event providers, musicians, caterers, photographers, and venues, to offer “one-stop-shopping” for weddings and special events.

Douglas Flower Shoppe was in the community and for the community.

People loved the little flower shop in Douglas. Just read the Facebook tributes when she posted its closing last month.

All that remains now is the lone sign still hanging outside the building at 320 Main Street.

Liking it wasn’t enough. “People also had to buy things,” said Dawn’s husband Mike as he carried emptied shelving out of the closed store with the help of his parents. “It’s hard to be a small business in a small town,” said Mike’s mother.   

Dawn wasn’t new to managing a small business – she knew It’s challenges, having been a part of The Gift Authority on Davis Street, and which closed for other reasons last year. She also followed a previous flower shop at the Main Street location, which had gone out of business the year before, citing the difficulty of parking near the store.

Dawn sites some of the reason for the closing. The immediate reason, clearly, was the lack of enough sales to remain a viable business. But others were changes in the flower business and shopping habits. For example, “People don’t send flowers for funerals anymore,” Nearby grocery stores have flower departments and it’s more convenient for people to pick up a bouquet while food shopping.

“I would like to say it was an honor and I felt a great sense of pride to be part of this community.” Said Dawn. “I realize that this is a sign of the times and I only hope that people will once again come together to support local business because local equals community. I would like to thank the people who continued to support us.”

Not every town in the Blackstone Valley has its own flower shop. Douglas was a fortunate exception. For a short time.