Two longtime Highland florists merge their businesses
At the end of April, Carol Elhke, owner of Carol’s Forget Me Knot, and Robin Kampwerth, a longtime employee of Carol’s, will begin working full-time at the Widmer, which is located at 1619 Papin St. Highland.
Retha and Gary Turner purchased Widmer Floral, Highland’s oldest continuously operating business, last year. The business has been around since 1870, and offers floral design, fresh and silk arrangements, gifts for all occasions, delivery, full service weddings, and plants in greenhouses.
“They have a lot of energy and a lot of great ideas,” Elhke said. “I am looking forward to melding those together and making something kind of special.”
Elhke, who has had her shop at 1208 Main St. for 18 years, said she has started to notice her energy waning as of late, and with her husband getting ready to retire, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a move.
“It just clicked. The timing is good for us right now” Elhke said.
Elhke said there are a lot of emotions circling handing over her business, but she is looking forward to a new chapter in her life.
“I’m happy to hand over my baby to someone who wants it and to someone who will take care of it like I do,” she said.
Retha Turner said she is excited to welcome Elhke, who will help with the addition of silk flower arrangements to Widmer’s repertoire.
“When I first met Carol we have had this thing in common,” Turner said. “So now, it’s really cool that we are going to be working together, and it think it will be a great friendship.”
Elhke said that business will continue at the Carol’s Forget Me Knot location on Main Street until May 1.
Other new additions
The merger is not the only thing that is new at Widmer.
On Valentines Day, the store opened a new coffee and wine shop. Starting at 6:30 a.m., customers can grab a cup of joe and eat pastries from Berkemann’s Baker’s Dozen.
Patrons also sample wines before they purchase.
Turner also said that to celebrate Elhke coming to the store, sometime after May 1, she will be a hosting a free coffee week, where customers can come in to meet and greet the new Widmer employees.
In addition to updating its offerings, Widmer has also undergone aesthetic upgrades. Before the wine and coffee shop was added on the inside, new art was mounted to the wall on the outside.
In early January, two Highland Middle School students, Julia Loeh and Grace Meyer, and their art teacher, Courtney Sellers, painted a special mural for the exterior of the floral shop.
Turner had been thinking about painting the whole outside western wall of the coffee shop, but she did not know how she wanted to do it. While she was discussing the idea with a friend, they suggested that she contact the middle school to see if any teachers would be interested, and Sellers was all over it.
All in all, preparation for the mural took about a month and in the end Turner decided to paint a large wooden plaque and not the side of the building. But once the painting began it was only a short time until the completion.
Now a large mural of three red poppies can be seen on the side of the building. The Turners also installed a light so the artwork can be seen from down the street at night.
“It was really a neat project, and to have two eighth-grade students to be involved was pretty cool,” Turner said.
Turner said that she was extremely happy with the final outcome and that the students did a wonderful job. Turner said that the mural is an example of how the community can support children on a local level.
“We need to support our community and push the things these kids are doing,” Turner said.