Community profile: In Carbondale, Susan’s is all about flowers, and a lot more, for that special someone or occasion
Nothing says love like local.
That’s certainly the idea behind Susan’s Flowers & Artisan Boutique in Carbondale, which serves as a one-stop shop for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion.
“I describe myself as a small business supporting other small businesses,” said owner Susan Burr, who has been in the floral business for seven years in Carbondale and 14 years in Basalt before that.
In addition to the shop’s personalized floral bouquets and arrangements for weddings and other special events, Susan’s carries greeting cards, jewelry, clothing, bath items, candles and gourmet canned foods, all crafted by area artists.
Want to spice things up even more? Susan’s also carries Roaring Fork Spice Co. spices.
And, of course, what would Valentine’s Day be without a box of chocolates?
Combining flowers and chocolate isn’t particularly unique, Burr said. But her partnership with Glenwood Springs chocolatier Lynda Brent of Colorado Candy Kitchen is. They’ve developed a couple of signature chocolates that are unique to Susan’s using spirits from the nearby Marble Distillery.
“We do support a lot of other locals, and I think that’s just part of being in a community,” Burr said. “Our customers like that, and it’s what keeps them coming back to support us.”
The southwest corner spot in Carbondale’s iconic Dinkel Building at 453 Main St. has been a flower shop since at least the 1990s, operating under different proprietors.
Burr brought her all-encompassing boutique concept to the storefront in 2014.
Along with floral designers Lynn Ruoff and Christina Barringer, with help from longtime Roaring Fork Valley floral designer Wenonah Recio of Botanicals Floral Art, and Jody Ensign managing things on the front side of the store, Susan’s will be hopping as usual on Valentine’s Day this Monday.
But it’s a year-round booming business, for sure, especially in an area that’s popular for wedding venues and big-ticket fundraising events and socials.
“Valentine’s Day is always that one day of craziness, or really a whole week leading up to it,” Burr said. “But I’ll tell you, Mother’s Day is right up there, too.”
And what is traditionally a jam-packed June with weddings is more of a late May through October season these days, she said.
Passion for floral design
While there are various certifications one can achieve to be a floral designer, a lot of it comes down to desire and passion, Burr said.
“I have a graphic design background, but a lot of my flower designing experience was on-the-job training,” said Burr, who is from St. Louis originally.
“Coming from that background gave me a good sense of color balance, textures and relationships.
“And, of course, one of the best things you can do is learn from other designers, so I’ve taken seminars and workshops and different classes to learn the trade.”
Barringer joined Susan’s in May last year and brought lots of experience after working for one of the biggest florists in her native Dallas, Dr. Delphinium Designs.
Barringer had lived in the Roaring Fork Valley previously, and was invited back by Recio to work for her business for a stint, then landed at Susan’s when Burr was looking for another full-time designer in addition to Ruoff.
“I feel like it’s a science,” said Barringer, who has an arts background in various mediums, including ice sculpting.
Interestingly, she said a lot of ice sculptors have a floral design background.
Recently, her own work was part of an ice sculpture exhibit in Basalt, and she had a hand in creating the bobsled ice sculpture on the Snowmass Mall this winter.
“I have a system,” Barringer said of her floral designs. “I’ve learned with my eyes, and just knowing if something looks good. It’s really about the shape, the textures, the colors.
“I do like the more artsy stuff … and the challenge, the puzzle of it,” she said.
Many of the flowers used in Susan’s designs are sourced from local growers, Burr said.
That has been especially helpful with the recent supply shortages and labor issues around shipping and regional trucking, which has been heightened during the pandemic.
A lot of the product comes from the Denver area, as well as out of state and internationally for certain varieties that aren’t grown in the United States. But Burr said she also uses growers in Carbondale, Paonia and Grand Junction.
“Again, we try to stay as local as we can with what is in season and depending on what people are wanting to have,” Burr said.
Understanding what a customer or regular client wants, and tailoring it to their desires, is also what sets the local florist apart from the in-store flower sections at grocery or big-box retailers, Burr also said.
“Our flowers come in about every two days, so we have continually fresh flowers, and we are constantly changing out the water in our containers to keep them fresh,” she said.
“We really baby them, because it’s our specialty.”
The floral business is also about interacting with customers and getting to know the larger community, Burr said.
“It’s a pretty social business, and you get to know people in a different way, which is what’s really great,” she said. “We aren’t just pumping out flower arrangements. We’re really helping the individuals convey their message to the recipient.”
Susan’s is one of a dwindling number of storefront florists serving the Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and New Castle area. An Exquisite Design Flowers and Gifts in New Castle follows a similar boutique model and is a past Glenwood Springs Post Independent Locals’ Choice award recipient.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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