From left to right at Mercer Island Florist, Christina Montilla, business operations and marketing director; Ava Baumgarten, senior shop associate; and Jenna Weischedel, lead designer and shop manager. Black-and-white Havanese Louie is the shop dog. Courtesy photo Mercer Island Florist’s employees have witnessed a lot of changes in their customers’ lives, said Christina Montilla, business operations and marketing director.
She added that the resilient and creative women who run the shop are there for Islanders through the art of flowers. They get to know customers’ names and stories while carrying on the shop’s robust floral tradition for 57 years.
Customers have displayed their appreciation by making orders during the pandemic to keep the shop rolling. “Honestly, that’s all just because the local community embraces us and still finds us really valuable right now,” Montilla said.
After owner Jennifer Hagstrom received permission from the governor’s office to operate under a floriculture designation in April, the team of floral designers got to work during Easter and Passover. Mother’s Day was an amazing time for sending flowers, Montilla said, because in-person visits weren’t allowed.
Hagstrom has been the shop’s owner for the last four years. Before that, Diane Larson ran the show after her mother, Shirley, acquired the business from the original owners, Earl and Anne Payne, who bought Browne’s Florist and Nursery in 1963.
Montilla and lead designer/shop manager Jenna Weischedel co-manage operations at its present location at 3006 78th Ave. SE, which is open for contactless pickup and delivery seven days a week. Only three customers are allowed in the shop at a time.
This fall and winter, the shop is transitioning from doing pre-COVID in-home installations into delivering wreaths, Christmas tree decorations and more. They are also offering subscription services, where customers can purchase weekly or monthly floral arrangements to send to loved ones or to their own homes. Mercer Island Florist delivers to customers on the Island, on the Eastside and in Seattle.
While shop traditions and community connections abound, it’s the popular Pineapple Turkey that Montilla finds especially fascinating. The centerpiece for a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner features a felt head and neck with the rest of the body connected in a pineapple arrangement.
With Halloween on the horizon, throughout October they are holding virtual tours of the shop featuring Louie, a black-and-white Havanese. The social media campaign is titled #31DaysOfLouie. They’ve also designed jars with dried flowers and dried foliage that have 13 pieces of candy inside that people can send to family and friends.
“We’re trying to find innovative ways to kind of help people feel like they’re together even though they can’t be,” Montilla said.
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