Flowers, unique gifts sure to please for holidays

BY VIRGINIA STILL

There is a local flower shop in downtown Riverbank that offers more than just flowers. Designs by Karen has been in Riverbank since 1999 and after moving to a few different locations, settled in at 3331Santa Fe in 2009, and has been there ever since. Owner and florist Karen Bickford’s first job when she was a teenager was arranging flowers. For several years she gained experience as a florist and used her creativity to build custom arrangements, which she still offers customers today.

The opportunity presented itself at the right time many years ago, which led to the Designs by Karen flower shop in downtown Riverbank.

“I love Riverbank,” stated Bickford. “I really like this downtown area, too; it is a little more quaint. I like knowing my neighbors.”

There are customers who have ordered flowers over the phone for many years and then stop in to the store and are surprised at all the other inventory offered. Several of Bickford’s returning customers are very comfortable with the process of ordering flowers over the phone, knowing the quality and freshness that they will get. With a presence on Facebook, a website, and applications like Constant Contact and Flower Shop Network, Bickford has good exposure online, noting that’s one way technology has helped her business.

And though you might not automatically think of a flower shop for holiday gift giving needs, who doesn’t like a bouquet of fresh flowers as a hostess gift or adding a festive arrangement to the holiday dinner table?

There are also several items in the shop you can add to a flower arrangement or bouquet and an assortment of gifts that stand alone.

Along with cut flower arrangements, Designs by Karen offers plants, purses, cards, balloons, frames and handmade aprons and hats.

There is also a wide variety of jewelry including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, and some sets offered at reasonable prices that are handpicked by Bickford and an employee at gift shows specifically for the shop.

“I have different tastes than my employee does so we both pick up different things,” added Bickford.

There are hammered silver hearts with leather necklaces, chunky necklaces with dangling charms, colorful beads, and of course blingy bracelets and watches in a variety of colors.
Buying local, Bickford said, has its advantages.

“When you call a local floral shop you will find out exactly what they do have in stock and maybe get some other suggestions for your event or holiday or whatever you are actually wanting to send the flowers for,” stated Bickford. “Order from your local flower shop. I think you certainly need to have consistency when you are dealing with a fresh product and know your quality.”

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