GREENVILLE — Katie Gabbard, owner of the Ivy League at 517 S. Broadway, was surprised the first day of spring.
“My shop girls found out that the store’s anniversary was March 21 and they gave me a full day of surprises,” Gabbard said. “It was real sweet. It was a Tuesday and I got taken out to dinner, cookies were brought in and everybody came in to see me.”
She said the store’s next official event will be on the First Friday event in downtown Greenville on May 5.
Gabbard is no stranger to activities in Greenville.
“I try to get involved in as many downtown activities as I can,” she said. “I also help with Garst Museum and the Gathering at Garst. I have a little pop-up shop there.”
She said she was in her early 20s when she opted to go into floral design.
“There were a lot of different things going on,” she said. “I decided to go to school for floral design in Dayton. I had worked for another florist in Eaton a couple of years. Then I thought, I’d really love to have my own shop and this was here. My folks talked to me about it and said this spot was available.”
Gabbard said the store had one time housed the Green Villa, a soda fountain shop, and later Sir Walter’s Pipe Shop.
“It’s a surprise to customers when they come in here,” she said. “It has a distinguished arch in back and that remains the same. They are surprised how we divided the space up. We pack a lot in a small space.”
The Ivy League offers fresh-cut flower for sympathy, regular orders and for special occasions, such as weddings.
“Our passion is working and expressing ourselves with fresh flowers,” she said. “We create fresh pieces daily and can provide flowers to perfectly convey customers’ sentiments.”
A big part of the business now seems to be their wedding work.
“We meet with the brides and their family through consultation to make sure we can communicate and are realistic about the wedding,” she said. “Having that outlook makes our wedding project successful. We offer blooms, ideas and inspiration for a captivating day. We make great memories. A lot of our wedding work comes word of mouth.”
She said her mother grow dahlias and she grows garden roses.
“If we know about a wedding, we will plant a certain flower ahead,” Gabbard offered. “Most of our weddings this year were way out of town…Cincinnati, Columbus and even in Pleasant Hill.”
The Ivy League also has interior design services.
“We did one for Wayne HealthCare a couple of years ago,” Gabbard said. “A lot of projects come our way that are all geared to be creative.”
The Ivy League also has a gallery of gifts.
“We always have plants and thoughtful items,” she said. “We try to find products made out of things besides plastic…such as stone, iron and wood.”
She also reported that the shop’s workers make their own jewelry and silk arrangements.
Gabbard, a 1998 graduate of Arcanum High School, is the daughter of Jenny and Jack Clark.
“After graduation I started school for fine arts and graphics design, but I coulnn’t get a good footing on anything, so I pursued this and really enjoyed it. It’s nice to work with plants and colors,” said Gabbard, who has four women helping her out at the shop.
Gabbard even did her own flowers for her wedding on July 15, 2006, at the Hayner Center in Troy.
She said husband Tom is supportive of her.
“We met at Sinclair in my first class the first day of school,” she said. “I had the wrong kind of paper and he offered me some of his. Then, he asked me out for lunch.”
The couple is living in Lakengren, a 45-minute drive from Greenville with their Boston terrier, Gus.
Her mother’s two Boston terriers, Ralphie and Buttercup, often visit The Ivy League, and are popular with the customers, including children, who stop in the store.
“I love this location,” Gabbard said. “I wouldn’t change it. We stay busy and strong because we’re so small.”
“This is the most unique floral shop around,” said Charlene Thornhill, who dropped by the shop during this interview.
The Ivy League is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, the store can be contacted at 937-548-8759 or via the web at ivyleagueflorist.com .
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