Mile End's Longest Flower Stand

On the spring-like day that I visited the Georges Riddell Fishing and Tackle shop, I also visited another "boutique" foiling the Bernard Street gentrification process, a very long flower and plant shop. Five or six years ago, it was a sight to behold. Interspersed with bamboo furnishings, this beautiful colourful flower and plant display lined the sidewalk for an entire block. Convinced there was something even more beautiful to see on the inside of the shop, I tried more than a few times to venture inside, but strangely the door was locked. One day, I managed to enter only to find the owner and two of her children. They immediately stopped what they were doing and looked up. The inside was dusty and dirty. There were articles stacked floor to ceiling, and packaging was strewn across the floor.

"Est-ce je peux vous aider?" asked the thin young woman with a frown and crossed arms. This was the owner who is believed to be from Hong Kong.

Her children resumed their noisy, aggressive play. The oldest one was relentlessly hitting the younger one on the head in front of the woman I presumed to be their mother. But her eyes were fixed on me, making me feel oddly uncomfortable. That was my cue to leave. As I'd discovered, these stores were merely where the plants were stored during closing hours. The real show was outside on the sidewalk.

I've bought a few plants at this shop over the years. One might get the idea that it would be hard for just one woman to monitor an entire block of plants and flowers and more than a few children, but no so. I had no sooner picked up a plant when I saw the owner quickly walking towards me. Initially, this appeared to be a place that would quickly run out of change, as many of the items cost under $20. Again I was wrong. The owner had an impressive money belt. In fact, she jingled as she moved towards me. Figuring I had some haggling room given the sheer volume of her merchandise and the fact there was no sign indicating a price, I mistakenly suggested an amount I was willing to pay.

"Je vous donne $4.00 pour celle-ci," I said.
"Non, c'est $6.00," she said shaking her head with her arms crossed.
"$5.00 alors," I countered.
"Je fais pas de prix. The price is $6.00," she said firmly in English without any trace of an accent.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the shop had closed its block of stores and moved across the street. Although smaller, the flower display on the sidewalk was no less impressive. I was attracted to the strange but beautiful blue and green flowers. As I got closer to the door to take pictures, I could hear the owner's boisterous children and their usual fighting, but I had no intention of going in.

Dear Reader: I must confess that when I chat with people in my neighbourhood the majority of the time the conversation is in French. In this post, I've tried to sneak in a little bit of French conversation just to give you a better feel of what my neighbourhood is really like.

Related posts:
The Lure of Fishing on Bernard


Post a Comment