Carmichael Flowers opened in its new location at 5907 Fair Oaks Blvd. in late January, moving from its previous location a couple blocks down the street. Ila Destfino, the shop’s owner since 2003, already feels at home in the new location.
“It’s charming, it’s quaint, it has wonderful natural light, heat and AC that actually work, a covered entry and it’s on the shady side of Fair Oaks Boulevard,” she said with a smile. “I know all the customers are going to love it, and my plants already do.”
Ila particularly appreciates the new location’s creative neighbors within the Frontier Village shopping plaza, including Tea Anytime Antiques and Gifts and Sherrie Swass Interior Design.
“It’s a real treat to have the gals to chat with daily,” she said.
Ila considers the spot the ideal location for Carmichael Flowers, which was founded in 1955. She said some of her older customers have told her the shop has come full circle, returning to the spot where it was founded, though she has not been able to confirm this yet. Ila said that she would love to see photographic evidence of the shop’s early history.
As someone who has worked with flowers for more than two decades, Ila has seen the industry change over the years; the locally-owned flower shops that used to be commonplace supplanted largely by what Ila calls “bucket florists,” including online flower-sellers and cut-rate floral departments inside grocery stores.
While the economy has made it challenging at times, Ila has relied on her expertise and her love of the business to keep the shop thriving. She recalled spotting an early sign of the economic crunch a couple years ago.
“Carmichael has lots and lots of convalescent homes and care facilities, and I noticed that when the economy went bad, we pretty much stopped making deliveries to the convalescent homes,” she said. “I think that’s sad for the patients in those facilities.”
As a local florist, Ila said much of her business comes from displays for funerals and weddings. The store’s former location included a wedding reception space, so Ila knows all about weddings and is able to provide brides with suggestions about what flowers will work best for their wedding location and tips on the ceremony and reception.
Ila’s other specialties include creating large floral arrangements for special events such as graduations and receptions, as well as designing altar and foyer arrangements.
“I love making the arrangements, love the beauty of the flowers,” she explained. “I don’t make any arrangement that I wouldn’t want to put in my own house.”
Ila also prides herself on delivering what she calls “old-world” customer service, doing what it takes to satisfy the customer, whether that means special deliveries to Placerville or Lincoln or simply helping out a guy who was dispirited after buying a cheap bouquet at another flower shop.
As for her plans for Carmichael Flowers, Ila intends to stick to her favorites.
“I really like keeping it just flowers, plants, my vast selection of vintage Depression glass, and my oriental garden statues and accents,” she said. “The tranquility of my garden space is essential for peace of mind and relieving stress.”
One change may be coming, space allowing.
“I am trying to figure where to put a fountain in the new shop,” she said. “Fountains certainly add to the ambience. Mostly I love the business, I love the flowers, I love the personalization with the people, and I enjoy knowing my customers.”
Carmichael Flowers is open weekdays from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. (often later, Ila said) at their new location at 5907 Fair Oaks Boulevard, one block south of El Camino Ave. in Carmichael. The shop’s website is www.carmichaelflowers.com.