Two Flower Shops 10 Blocks Away Are a World Apart in Crown Heights
CROWN HEIGHTS — A cool young couple heading out for a romantic meal on the up-and-coming western avenues of Crown Heights would have no end of artisanal cheeses and local wines to choose from.
But a hand-crafted bouquet of flowers? Forget about it.
"There really is no floral atelier in the area," said floral designer Sarah Lineberger, 24, of Chrysanthemum: Rare Teas and Flowers on Washington Avenue and St. Marks Place, which opened on Tuesday. "You have delis selling daisies here."
Lineberger and her business partner Ken Lo hope to change that, luring hip young romantics tired of corner bodega carnations and generic grocery store roses with homegrown wildflowers, firecracker and purple haze.
As for those on Crown Heights' eastern edge, they've been doing wildflowers for years.
"Some guys come in for the first time feeling like they'll splurge for their anniversary," said Chani Frankel, 28, co-owner of Mimulo, a popular flower shop on Albany Avenue whose exotic bouquets are practically de rigueur on the Shabbat tables of young Lubavitch Hasidic couples.
"Then their wives decide the flowers from the corner aren't going to cut it anymore."
When Frankel and her partner Freidel Levin opened the shop five years ago, even their supporters were skeptical that the business would thrive. The demand was there — most men buy their wives flowers every Friday for the Sabbath — but Frankel feared the tradition-bound community would balk at her unique designs.
"They were very traditional, not used to something with an edge. They're used to roses with baby's breath," Frankel said. "But now it's a standard."
Though Mimulo sells more than 100 bouquets almost every Friday, the heart of her business is weddings. High season in the Orthodox community begins with the spring festival of Shavuot and wraps with the three weeks, a period of mourning that began this past weekend.
"For Shavuot we were up all night making bouquets, and then there's weddings," said staffer Mookie Cohen, 21. "You barely have a minute to sit down."
Weddings are big business for Chrysanthemum as well. With some of the the borough's most desirable wedding venues — the Brooklyn Museum and the Botanic Gardens — within walking distance, Lineberger is hoping to snare a new breed of bride searching for something of the borough's whimsical, DIY zeitgeist.
"My main goal is to captivate the Brooklyn bride, or even the Manhattan bride who's tired of the TriBeCa rooftop," Lineberger said. "The design is very seasonal, very natural — everything has a lot of movement."
Like its Washington Avenue neighbor, which will host art shows, traditional tea ceremonies and workshops, the Albany Avenue flower shop also doubles as a gallery and event venue. But while the neighborhood's ever-expanding roster of bars and restaurants might boast cultural events of their own, locals said there's something special about a flower shop.
"I think it brings a whole other atmosphere to the community," Cohen said. "It appeals to a lot of the young couples. There's so many young people that live here, so it's great for them."