Keirstead’s Flower Shop Still Has Strong Saint John Roots
Keirstead’s Flowers shopfront. Image: Elizabeth MacLeod/Huddle. SAINT JOHN – Keirstead’s Flower Shop remains committed to providing customers, old and new, with local and international flowers despite the unexpected obstacle of Covid-19.
“Our flowers come from all over the world,” said florist Connie Dead. “We get flowers from Holland, Ecuador, our roses come from Ontario. A lot come through Ontario and they get them from different places all over the world as well.”
Australia, Africa and Lebanon are a few other places where the shop gets its flowers, with Birds of Paradise and Protea flowers being some of the most popular selections.
“Ontario does have locally grown flowers so those are the closest local flowers we get,” said Dean. “Sometimes there’s someone on the Kingston Peninsula or Hampton that’ll bring in garden flowers that we can buy.” A piece of family history (Image: Elizabeth MacLeod) The business was founded by the late Guy G. Keirstead whose passion for flowers led him to first rent a stall at the City Market in 1925.
Keirstead’s operated out of the market from 1925 to 1946, until he purchased property on the corner of Charlotte and Princess Street where the shop still operates to this day.
Dean said the building survived the Great Saint John Fire of 1877 and used to be a hardware and butcher shop, which were combined to make Keirstead’s.
“You have some of the old coolers that we still have from back when they opened up this shop in the 40s,” she shared, which is where they store the flowers.
The shop has been run by Brian Keirstead since 1999, who turned the building’s upper level into a museum and gift shop, selling works of local artists such as Fred Ross and Mary Galbraith until it closed a few years ago.
From Mid-March to Easter Keirstead stayed open at reduced hours throughout the pandemic, then closed for a few weeks until they reopened before Mother’s Day on May 9.
“It’s really difficult getting flowers right now. They’re just starting to come back, but it’s not where it used to be; it’s a little difficult and it’s a little pricier to get flowers right now too,” said Dean. “But other than that, as long as people give us a lot of notice for specialty items we can get them in.”
Working reduced hours and with a reduced stock of flowers during spring and prime flower-giving occasions, from Easter to Mother’s Day to Professional Secretary’s Day, was difficult.
“It’s been a struggle and most people are understanding about it, but you do get to the odd person that really is not happy and there’s nothing we can do,” she said. Keirstead’s Flowers interior (Image: Elizabeth MacLeod) Except for bringing in their two plant maintenance staff members Keirstead’s has not brought back any of its staff.
“Some of the offices have opened back up so they’re able to work a couple of days a week, but the rest of the staff, there’s not enough business to bring them back,” she said.While summer is normally […]