Q&A with Alanah Borbely, owner of The Little Petal Company

Alanah Borbely

Question: What has your experience been like, so far, in running a small business in a small community?
Answer: There’s no place else I’d rather start a business than here. Our community and those that surround us have been so supportive, and I am very appreciative of that. We have built a strong and loyal group of customers, who love to “shop local” and that’s the key to the survival of small business in a small town.

We are coming up on seven months in business, and are still getting many new customers through the store. It’s common to hear how happy the community is to have a flower shop back in town.
We love local, and with Christmas right around the corner, we’re very excited for all the new and unique Canadian-made gift ideas coming in. We hope that you will make The Little Petal Company a shopping destination this holiday season.

Central Peace is such a vast land mass. How much of your sales/business is influenced or driven by word you put through the social media? What do you see would be the role of social media in the survival of small business in a small but vastly spread-out community like the Central Peace?
Social media is a vital part of our success. Much of our business is influenced and driven by photos and online interaction with our customers. Social media is definitely a top priority when it comes to our daily routine in the store. We have many customers who come in and comment on how much they love our posts online. We have built a solid following on both Facebook and Instagram where we can share the latest in-store items, events, and our most popular “Bouquet of the Day” posts.
For small businesses like ours, social media is one of the most important communication channels to reach customers today. These channels provide so much opportunity for businesses to leverage their own unique brand and express personality through photos and video. The Central Peace is a large geographic area, and it can sometimes be challenging and costly to reach customers through traditional advertising methods. Social media allows for a more cost effective and efficient marketing channel where you can reach customers on a daily basis.

Who are your customers?
We have a wide range of customers – gentlemen who come in to buy her flowers “just because”; to sympathy flowers for families who have suffered a loss; to those bride and grooms on their special day and; to ones looking for that special birthday gift.

We also have customers who were gifted The Little Petal Co. Floral Subscription. These lucky ladies look forward to receiving seasonal hand-selected flowers, each month on a chosen date for a set timeframe. These make for perfect Christmas gifts.

We cater to many different customers and also have a few VIP’s who are all under the age of 5 years. These little locals love coming into the store for a quick visit and to check out the pretty flowers.

What would you say is your biggest challenge right now? And what are you doing to try to manage or overcome that challenge?
I would say the biggest challenge we face is all “the firsts” – with heading into our first Christmas season, and it’s difficult to forecast sales and traffic through the store. To overcome this challenge, I have reached out to my florist peers and resources to better understand their forecasting methods to set a benchmark for our store.

We also love feedback from our customers and we aren’t afraid to ask. Whether it’s what we can do better to serve them or what types of products they would like to see in store. Our customers are the best resource when it comes to overcoming this challenge.

Where do you want to take your business in the next, say, five years?
In the next five years I’d like to continue to grow and be a local business of choice when it comes to floral and gift needs here and for the surrounding communities. We are committed to providing a unique shopping experience, which highlights Canadian-made and local artisans.

We will also look to grow our team and focus on the wedding industry to become a top choice in wedding florals in the Peace Country.

Workshops are also an integral part of our five-year journey with plans to expand into surrounding communities, clubs and programs while creating new and fresh ideas to bring community members together.

How have you been able to engage the community in your business?
We are thrilled to be able to engage the community by hosting workshops that bring everyone together for fun and creative night out. We piloted “workshops” back in the spring with succulents and were overwhelmed by the response. Our workshops sell out in record timing, and we are very thankful for that.

Heading into the Christmas season we are booked with many private and in-store workshops.

Do you have forthcoming events?
We’re so excited for our first Christmas season with many market appearances. Come visit us at the Spirit River Christmas Craft Show (Nov. 2 and 3), Sexsmith Christmas Market (Nov. 23 and 24), Savanna Craft Show (Dec. 1) and the Rycroft Christmas Market (Dec. 7 and 8).  Plus, we recently launched our Christmas Workshop Series for November. Register soon as spaces are limited.

Fresh Outdoor Christmas Planter
Nov. 16 and 21, 7pm at The Little Petal Company
Nov. 18, 11am at Blueberry Mountain Hall

Fresh Christmas Wreath
Nov. 20, 7pm at The Little Petal Company

Fresh Grapevine Christmas Wreath
Nov. 27 and 29, 7pm at The Little Petal Company

Grinch Tree Fundraiser – Spirit River Library
Nov. 25, 2pm at Ross Room Centennial Hall

For more information or to register, please call The Little Petal Company at (780) 864-3020.