The words, “thank you” are invaluable, both to bearer and recipient. But a small gift packed along with the sentiment will enhance any reward for a job well done, and every gift sent “just because.” Experts can make the gesture sweeter, as well as more colorful. To inspire you in creating your own tokens of appreciation, we highlight two Richmond residents who do it everyday.
Bouquets by Sylvia,
401 W. Brookland Park Blvd.
Sylvia Richardson came to Richmond in 1964 to teach after graduating college. In 1989, when she was principal of Bellevue Model School in Church Hill, she took a class in Floral Design. Friends and colleagues quickly clamored for her designs and just four years later, she opened a full-service florist. Staff ran the shop during the day, and Sylvia worked afternoons after school. After teaching for 13 years and serving as a principal for 22, she retired from Richmond Public Schools in 2001 and began full time at her business. Today, Bouquets by Sylvia keeps four full time employees busy, supplementing the staff during the holidays. She’s in the same location she first opened, in a colorful lavender and purple house in North Side. Her delivery vans cross the city, decorated with her signature symbol, a woman’s head crowned with lavender flowers.
That famous lavender bust: “I bought that in Bermuda after I found it [on display] in one of the stores. It took me four hours to talk him into selling it to me. Luckily there was an empty plane seat next to me coming back, so I strapped her in and we rode on back to the States.”
Creativity blooms: “I go to a lot of art galleries and shows. I play piano, saxophone, and paint with oils. I’m into a lot of different crafts. It balances me to do things in the creative arts.”
What customers send to say thanks: “At Thanksgiving, it’s a time for family. I would say there are two things that are very popular at Thanksgiving. One is a table centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s a real popular piece. And we do specialty baskets. We do gourmet and fruit baskets. We do theme baskets; for example, soup baskets, beverage baskets, chocolate baskets, and breakfast baskets. We kind of do things that are a little different. We try to think out of the box a little bit. We’re full of ideas.”
When giving, get personal: “We have found that it’s one thing for you to order an arrangement, but you may not know how the person’s house is decorated. So whenever we can, we try to get a description of what the décor is, so we can fashion something that will fit the house.”
Sylvia’s favorite flower: “The purple rose, of course.”
Back to Earth Foods
Chester resident Jo-Linda Sanders is a familiar vendor at area farmer’s markets, selling her wholesome, vegetarian goods. Certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants, Jo-Linda has led cooking demonstrations for the Virginia Department of Agriculture, and one of her recipes is featured on their Website. A vegetarian for thirty years, Jo-Linda ran a nutritional center at Fort Lee for many years. In 1996, she opened “Back to Earth Foods.”
How Jo-Linda thanks a friend: “It depends on the person. But one thing that I get requested a lot is my soup. I have a vegan vegetable soup. I pack it up and sometimes I send it across country. That’s what I send as a gift. Being thankful is definitely a part of a healthy life.”
What customers send to say thanks: “Usually bags of cookies, pies, or cakes. Cookies are the most popular item, especially chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. Usually it’s based on the age group. Chocolate chip are the younger people’s favorite. Oatmeal raisin, usually the older people that like that. Sometimes they want them baked a certain way, maybe with unbleached flour. Sometimes they want it vegan so I’ll make it without eggs.”
Savory is sweet, too: “My greens, especially my kale and tomatoes, are one of the most popular dishes. I have some people order it by the quart, especially around the holidays.”
by Cesca Janece Waterfield