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Design Stores

Coriander Girl

Posted by Charlotte Johnstone / Posted on October 16, 2009

Coriander GirlCoriander Girl, a new interior design store in Parkdale, selling furniture, home accessories, cards and locally grown flowers, opened about a month ago.

I'd initially thought the store operated as a straightforward florist. And, having always had a healthy cynicism for florists -- what with them being the mecca for the most clich├ęd of occasions and all -- I just assumed that a floor full of cello-ed, scentless gladiolas was all I was missing out on.

Coriander Girl ParkdaleBut, a few weeks later, a friend (very uncharacteristically) presented me with an undeniably fetching concoction of bracken-y leaves, acorns and berries wrapped in paper and string. 'Coriander Girl" she said smiling, "it's great in there."

Coriander Girl TillEntering the store for the first time is a bit like visiting a friend at work, mainly because the owner, Alison Westlake, is so talkative and welcoming (plus, to my surprise, she's the same age as most of my friends).

Coriander Girl Interior"Anything that isn't nailed down is for sale" she explains. From the tables covered with vases and potted herbs to the ancient cash register on the counter, if you like it you can make an offer for it.

Westlake grew up helping her parents renovate houses in Parkdale. The idea behind the store (which she renovated and decorated herself) was to provide Parkdale with a place where people can get fresh cut, local flowers and anything else that might fall under the bracket of 'interiors'.

Coriander Girl FlowersAs things are sold, they make room for whatever other furniture Westlake sources from antique markets, or she even leaves keeps a little open space. "I'd like to have art shows in here; this is an ideal space for them," she says. "And workshops too, I'm open to trying different things in the store".

Coriander Girl CardsUsing retail space in such a malleable way seems like an unusual business when a lot of independent stores are moving their retail operations online and intangible assets (e.g Twitter) are move valuable than ever. But, perhaps there's a bit of a trend starting up.

Coriander Girl FurnitureAlong this particular stretch of Queen, Coriander Girl fits in perfectly. It is, after all, opposite a robot shop that never opens but frequently changes its window display (Sixth) and a conspiracy theory shop (Conspiracy Culture) -- a store so self-effacing that they yukked it up on Nuit Blanche by hanging suspended, lit flashlights from their ceiling after they'd closed for the day.

Coriander Girl MushroomsGetting back to the flowers, it's interesting to see someone trying to de-stereotype the giving of flowers for people in their 20s. Even I find myself eyeing the assortment of mini cabbages, berries and red stemmed leaves that make up the arrangements on this particular day.

There are tongue in cheek mini, pre-made 'apology' bouquets for $4 (a comical nod to the main reason a lot of people visit florists) and a sign promising that a bunch of flowers can be made up for any budget.

Coriander Girl BouquetAs we're talking and I'm looking round the store, people from the neighbourhood drift in and out to say hello. Someone from the cafe across the street, Poor John's brings over brownies, and I realize that the guy/girl ratio of customers is about 50/50.
This surprises me but Alison later confirms that it's the case.

Coriander Girl ArrangementCoriander Girl has definitely changed my pre-formed opinion about anything associated with floristry. The next time I have to say sorry, I might just try doing it with flowers.

Photos by Anna Lisa Sang.

Discussion

28 Comments

walter morehouse / October 17, 2009 at 07:24 pm
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We would like to say the article is great and also it is a breath of fresh air to see someone has so much talent and brave to open a flower shop in that area. The photos were great,what about one of the owner. Best of luck to her.
Robin Poulin / October 17, 2009 at 09:06 pm
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LOVE the business idea. I bet you give a lot of people decorating ideas that way that they may not have put together themselves... a great value ad for your clients. Good luck with business!!
Brittany / October 17, 2009 at 09:12 pm
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I went into Coriander Girl mainly out of curiosity. It was really cute and charming in there! I bought a really pretty arrangement of flowers that lasted a long time. I would shop there again.
Jenn / October 17, 2009 at 09:19 pm
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Chanced upon this place just after it opened...it is beautiful and the owner is very friendly. I am a student and always looking for affordability and she delivers on the promise to make an arrangement for any budget. It's definitely different than your average flower shop! Loved it.
Breeyn / October 18, 2009 at 12:41 am
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This place is so pretty inside, and smells really good. Not like a flower shop at all! The owner was super nice, and though I'd just gone to look around, I was totally inspired to buy a bouquet for a male friend I was meeting up with after. I love showing up with flowers, and this could easily become my go-to place.
Judy / October 23, 2009 at 01:20 am
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I really love the unique arrangements that Coriander Girl comes up with, they're classy, playful and simply gorgeous. Definitely worth checking out.
John / October 26, 2009 at 06:09 pm
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I had a first date on Friday night. I had no idea what to get, so Alison put together an amazing arangment for me. The flowers were a big hit with my date and even a bigger hit my my dates mom. Coriander Girl...you rock the Casbah.
Kristine / October 27, 2009 at 09:44 pm
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This is my new favorite place to visit! Every week there's always something new and fresh, not the typical flowers you always see. The beautiful handmade bouquets with soft tasteful colours are so great to see and have been the new gift for my friends and for me! especially after a long week at work...this I would recommend to everyone:)
Ursula / January 15, 2010 at 10:02 pm
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Thank you for the beautiful long lasting arrangements you have done for me. Alison sells the store - she has such a great personality and really listens to what you want. No-one can arrange flowers like you, Alison. I urge everyone in the area to drop by here.

Ursula
Ursula / January 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm
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Thank you for the beautiful long lasting arrangements you have done for me. Alison sells the store - she has such a geat peronsality and really listens to what you want. No-one can arrange flowers like you, Alison - you have a natural talent. I urge everone in the area to derop by here.
Dawn Bazely / May 8, 2010 at 11:11 pm
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When the current construction upheaval on Roncesvalles resulted in a number of businesses going under, including Victoria Flowers (Alicia, the owner was my regular florist for 10 years), I started searching for a new neighbourhood florist. It looked like I would have to go all the way to the Kingsway or to Trinity Bellwoods, but a friend told me about Coriander Girl, which is local and provides local flowers. Alison has been great! I very much hope that the neighbourhood supports her fledgling business.
Joni / May 10, 2010 at 04:14 pm
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My daughter saw Alison's work on the web just when I was looking for a unique thank you 'arrangement'. I loved what I saw and called her. She was extremely friendly, accommodating, helpful and tried to make my gift cost effective, not up-sell, up-sell. It was a pleasure to deal with someone who is enthused about her business. The recipient LOVED the selection and the mason jar presentation! Thank you Alison. Long may Coriander Girl thrive!
Connie O'Shell / February 14, 2011 at 03:40 pm
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Congratulations Alison I heard from your proud Dad (my cousin) that Everyone Loves you and your work, no wonder. I have to say the flowers that I phone ordered were a great success and I would not hesitate to do that again. You were helpful and timely in your delivery. Everyone should have a florist like you who can create wonderful expressions. Thanks

connie
Coriander Dad / March 18, 2011 at 10:14 am
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Dearest Alison, as always sweetheart you never cease to amaze me. The comments on this site from so many people of varied backgrounds, is a testament to your astounding design and communication skills. I am proud to have you as my daughter. love Diddy
Jesse Dziedzic / October 20, 2011 at 02:09 pm
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Thank goodness some bloggers can still write. Thank you for this blog..
2012 calendar / January 6, 2012 at 02:14 pm
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At least some bloggers can still write. Thank you for this blog!
Balloon Loan Calculator / January 23, 2012 at 09:00 am
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Probably this blog's best piece I have seen!!!
online / January 27, 2012 at 07:32 am
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Thank goodness some bloggers can write. My thanks for this piece of writing!!!
recipes / January 28, 2012 at 07:12 am
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That's an all around amazing blog post.
anvelope ieftine / February 4, 2012 at 05:49 am
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You're completely correct with this blog..
sentra gadget / February 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm
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You couldn't be more right...
Template Monster Promo Codes / February 19, 2012 at 06:42 am
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This surely makes great sense to me...
Heidehonig / February 29, 2012 at 05:51 am
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That was a really great writing!
google +1 likes kaufen / March 8, 2012 at 08:14 am
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Very significant blog post!!!
Kaori / March 25, 2012 at 05:54 pm
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I love Coriander Girl! So nice to get flowers from someone with subtle taste. Nothing cheesy! I will come here every time I need a bouquet!
rousseanal / March 29, 2012 at 08:50 am
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Incredibly well written blog..
Bryan Keddy / May 13, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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Hi Allison n' much congrates on your business venture - as I grew up in Parkdale in the 50's n' 60's with your uncle John n' knew your father Paul (so please say hi from me) - and a great idea to combine antiques with floral arrangements -

All the best ...

Bryan Keddy
Halifax, Nova Scotia ...
Bryan Keddy / May 13, 2012 at 01:54 pm
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Ask yur dad to tell ya about the time he drove down Lansdowne doing donuts in the snow ..... oh n' the skunk pet which I'm sure he already told ya about ???? ..... oops that was a long time ago n' we were just crazy teenagers then (he he) ..... but fun memories ....

Bryan Keddy
Halifax, Nova Scotia ...

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