By Paul Hambruch
For 2000 Golden Memories
The Golden Flower Shop, owned and operated by myself and my wife Ingrid, came into being on March the 2nd 1961. We had built a greenhouse in Brisco in 1957 and needed an outlet for our production. In 1968, we also purchased the valley flower shop in Invermere, which we sold in 1988. Little did we know in 1961 that we would be traveling back and forth between Brisco and Golden as well as Brisco to Invermere for more than 30 years!
Our first shop was located in a small building that stood where the tech shop stands today. Mat Hautala owned the building and used half of it for “Matias Barber Shop”. Getting started wasn’t easy. There had never been a flower shop in Golden and people only thought of flowers for funerals and weddings and perhaps when a baby was born and possibly on Easter and Christmas. To begin with, Ingrid ran the flower shop while I worked at odd jobs to earn a living. At the same time, I looked after the green houses and the plant nursery. I can well remember Ingrid coming home, saying “You know what? I sold some flowers today”.
By 1963, the business had developed into a full time job, and we had outgrown our premises and moved to Park Drive into the building where Wayne Manzer has his massage clinic today. Two years later, we made another move to where the bicycle shop is today, and in 1989, we moved to the former Robinsons store at 824 10th Ave, where we remained until we sold the business to Tessa Elkington in 1994.
Over the years we saw many changes in the business: originally, any flowers or plants we couldn’t grow ourselves we had shipped by train from a greenhouse in Medicine Hat. With the end of train service our shipping problems started: the trains were well heated and the flowers almost always arrived in top shape. Keeping trucks warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer was much more of a problem, although Ed cotton always did his best to help us out. For a number of years, we even had flowers and plants shipped by air to Cranbrook, which meant at least one trip a week to the Cranbrook airport to pick them up. In those days, we could also buy a bus ticket and the flowers wrote inside the bus to keep them warm or cool! After the flower auction started in Burnaby, we had flowers and plants delivered by heated truck direct to our back door, which finally ended our shipping problems.
The biggest change in the flower business was brought about by jet planes which made it possible to ship flowers economically and safely around the world. Today, flowers sold in Golden might have been grown anywhere in the world.
Flowers-By-Wire orders that people wanted to send to friends or relatives in other places were sent by Telegraph. At Christmas time we would send as many as 100 telegrams, which must have kept the Telegraph operator at the CPR station busy. People were often puzzled how we could squeeze the flowers through the Telegraph wires! Few people realize how big and complicated a business Flowers-By -Wire really is.
Besides flowers, we sold a lot of bedding out plants as well as garden supplies in spring and, in later years, close to half our business came from giftware. But no matter what we sold, the most difficult part always was, and probably will always be, knowing that people might want what people might want to buy that year. But for 35 years, we had fun running the business and we can only hope that the people we served got as much out of it as we did.