Bells of Ireland, Protea, Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, Autumn Hibiscus, Orchids, and American Beauty Berries. Sounds like a poem, doesn’t it? It’s actually a list of flowers artfully displayed in a centerpiece created by Ninth Street Flowers for Piedmont Restaurant. And it is every bit as beautiful as it sounds.
Ninth Street Flowers has been in the same location on Ninth Street since the 1970’s, but Lea and Larry Wood made it their own in 2003. In fact, they own the entire building that houses their shop and two other iconic Ninth Street business, Ninth Street Dance and The Playhouse Toy Store. Along with a matching grant from the City of Durham, they commissioned the colorful mural that graces the brick wall at the corner of Ninth and Perry.
What do Lea and Larry love most about running a flower shop? The independence, for one thing. Initially, Larry landed on the idea of a retail florist shop through a national franchise, but ultimately decided that owning his own shop without all the encumbrances of a franchise was more appealing. Together Lea and Larry came to Durham with the desire to have their own business. Fourteen years later, their journey continues to evolve with the Ninth Street neighborhood. Being part of a lifestyle business has given them a sense of belonging and they appreciate how the shop has brought the Durham/Ninth Street community into their lives.
If you ask them about their favorite flowers, they’ll point you towards the lilies produced by Sarah & Michael’s Farm, just one of the local vendors with whom they partner. These lilies are huge and fragrant and come in an abundance of colors – bright white, rich magenta, and sunny yellow, to name a few. As big supporters of the farm-to-table movement that has enriched Durham’s food scene (though in this case it might be referred to as a “farm-to-vase” movement), the Woods are intentional in using local growers like Sarah & Michael’s whenever possible. They also buy from Spring Forth Farm of North Carolina and the Durham-based Flowers by the Bucket.
Ninth Street Flowers feels fortunate in their employees – they have five, not counting themselves – and in their clientele, which includes some noteworthy names as far as Durham circles go. Some of these partners include Vin Rouge, Piedmont, and Parazade, as well as Hall Wynne Funeral Home, First Presbyterian Church, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. They are proud to be the Official Florist for Duke Athletics, and they work extensively with other departments at Duke University as well, including the Fuqua School of Business and Duke Chapel. And of course, when Durham folks need flowers for weddings, bar mitzvahs, memorials, graduations, and all of life’s grand celebrations and transitions, they invite Ninth Street Flowers to help make these celebrations unforgettable. In short, the Durham community has been good to Ninth Street Flowers, and, accordingly, the Woods make it a point to be good to the community.
Whether it’s providing substantial discounts to local churches, donating to elementary school PTAs, or contributing to the Duke Durham Campaign, Ninth Street Flowers always makes an effort to give back. The support and loyalty of their Durham community has also allowed the Woods’ work to extend beyond Durham to places as far away as Bolivia, where they financially support the Centro Medico Internacional HOPE Clinic in La Paz. This clinic, which serves mainly international residents of Bolivia, uses its profits to fund a multitude of projects that help meet the basic needs of Bolivia’s poorest residents. Lea and Larry are hoping that they will have more opportunities in the future to build on the kind of work they have been doing in Bolivia.
While Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are big events in any flower shop, Ninth Street is proud to say that its own flower shop caters to its clients all year. This is a little flower shop with a big heart, deeply rooted in the Durham spirit of giving back as you grow.