One of the founding tenants of River Park Square has set up shop at a new downtown location that will allow the owners of Bloem Flowers, Chocolates and Paperie to write a new chapter for their 43-year-old family business.
Bloem recently moved to 221 N. Wall St., which formerly was the site of Runner’s Soul. Unlike some businesses that have shuttered rather than make a go as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, the family hopes to offer flower arrangements and chocolates well into the future, co-owner Kathryn Julyan said.
“I’ve been in that store since I was 7. I grew up in River Park Square,” Julyan said. “It was a difficult position. We needed to look at how we can move our business into the future. We have an amazing team and they support families. So, it was important that we could continue to offer full-time employment and fair wages.”
The new location also will allow Bloem, which currently is taking orders online and offering curbside pickup, to have more flexible hours that can be reduced during slow times, said Julyan, whose parents, Johanna and the late Ren Julyan, bought Boehms Candies in 1977 and added flowers to the business.
The location on the second floor of the downtown mall just didn’t attract the customers like in years past, she said.
“We were already noticing the small traffic. It’s just a different ballgame,” Julyan said. “The high rent cost was not paying for the amount of walk-in traffic. Now we are on the street level. Now we are very accessible.”
Bryn West, vice president of River Park Square, said the mall will try to lease out Bloem’s location once concerns about potential rioting in downtown and pandemic shutdowns ease. River Park Square is owned by affiliates of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.
“We wish them the best of luck at their new location,” West said.
Julyan said her family is “deeply grateful” for their time in the mall. But a change was needed.
“Generations go on, and children take over and relationships change,” she said. “My mother is gradually retiring. I’m starting to be involved more. And I have an 8-year-old daughter.”
The new location should give the family business more flexibility, she said.
“We are looking forward to having more freedom to operate in a way that is offering the experience that the customers have grown to love,” Julyan said. “I think our reason for moving is just to sustain Bloem, to sustain the brand name.”
Tenants of the mall are required to be open during a set period of hours. The new location will give the family a chance to tailor the business hours to fit its needs, she said.
“We can craft our business to be open when it’s busiest,” she said. “Our designers are very amazing. We want to be able to offer more of that. Some of that is not having to watch the front as much.”
Some of the business’s employees are single parents, and Bloem wants to be able to pay them a wage to retain them, Julyan said.
“Our employees mean the world to us and have been with us for years,” she said. “We are hoping to make it to 50 years, at least.”
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