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A 94-year-old Bangor flower shop is under new ownership, and with that shift have come lots of other changes to the venerable floral business.
Joseph Langlois purchased Bangor Floral, located at the In Town Plaza at 332 Harlow St., from longtime owner Phil Frederick earlier this summer. Langlois has been busy since then fully renovating the space, with an eye toward local, sustainable flowers and gifts.
Bangor Floral originally opened in 1925 on State Street near what is now Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and was owned for decades by members of the Graves family. In 1980, Frederick bought the shop, and in 1985 moved it to the corner of Center and Cumberland streets, to a former church, where it stayed for more than 30 years before moving to the In Town Plaza in September 2017.
Frederick put the shop on the market last year, not long after Langlois found himself looking for a new career opportunity for himself. Langlois, who grew up in both Rhode Island and in the Bangor area, worked in retail for decades, including a 10-year stint as manager of the Sears at the Bangor Mall, and another 10 years as manager of the Staples next to the Bangor Mall.
Though he worked in corporate retail for decades, Langlois, 50, said small business ownership was always a dream in the back of his mind.
“This is a second chapter, for me,” said Langlois, who studied art in college and who says he comes from a family full of painters, potters and woodworkers. “It’s incredibly refreshing. And it allows me to be creative, which is something that’s really satisfying. And it feels amazing to be a part of a really long tradition of small businesses in Bangor.”
Langlois spent most of the spring and early summer working with Frederick to slowly transition into ownership, learning the tricks of the flower trade and gradually introducing some new elements to the shop.
In addition to traditional hothouse flowers like roses and lilies, Langlois sources a number of field-grown flowers from farms throughout Maine, including Cates Family Farm in Vassalboro and Cedar Mill Farm in Exeter. Snapdragons, zinnias, daisies, gladiolus and many more local blooms are individually priced and arranged in containers on what Langlois calls a “flower bar.”
“You can come in, pick the flowers that you want, and make your own arrangement,” said Langlois. “Flowers are something that should be touched and felt and experienced. They’re a sensory experience. This makes it so the customer gets to be a part of it.”
There’s also a greatly expanded array of houseplants, including a number of succulent plants, a type of indoor plant that’s become incredibly trendy in recent years, including varieties such as aloe, agave, echeveria and cacti. Langlois also makes glass terrariums of varying sizes, and offers a selection of local gifts, including handmade candles, home decor and body products.
Langlois and his husband, Guy Ortega, are living and breathing the small business lifestyle. Ortega owns Salon Bonifacio in Brewer, and between their two businesses, the pair hardly have time to see each other.
“We’re two ships passing in the night,” said Langlois. “But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Bangor Floral is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit the business’ Facebook page.