Palace of Flowers has been owned by two families for over 70 years

Flower Palace has always been a family business. Two families in over 70 years.

The current owner, Karen Orlicki, was always with plants and flowers at the family home on Indiana 2. “I was in 4-H. So that was a start. We had a big garden with peppers, tomatoes. My father had his roses. His father, Stanleycherished and cultivated the roses and cared for them with plenty of natural fertilizer (fish parts).

“We were going with buckets to pick up dead fish along Lake Michigan. Can you imagine children doing this today? said Karine. The fertilizer made spectacular roses. “We knew all the varieties of roses in the garden.” She was well educated.

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Her love of flowers became a business. She started working at the Palais des Fleurs in 1982 and then bought it in 1990.

The family remains involved. His brother, Mike, does repair work and changes light bulbs. His sister Diane Notteboom come for the big holidays. Karen employs another designer and a delivery man.

Have you always wanted to have a store? “Yeah, if I couldn’t make it here, I expected to move to a big city and get a job.” She wanted to manage and create. Karen got her wish.

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Karen took floral design classes and loved the creativity. For her, it’s an art. “It’s a joy” to create and share that. She loves being part of people’s lives.

The wrong side? “It’s still a job. Sometimes it’s seven days a week. It’s not a hobby. During the festive period from November to Easter, the shop is busy. Then it’s quiet,” she said.

There is also competition from big box stores, supermarkets and online sales. Karen could name six florists who have closed in recent years. Unfortunately, this is a national trend. From 2000 to 2011, there was a decline of about 37% in stores, according to the Society of American Florists.

Karen added that the big box stores don’t deliver. It makes a big difference.

Henry and Joseph Labuzienski were the first owners of the Palace of Flowers.  The store opened in 1948.

The first chapter of Palace began with Joseph Labuzienski. Joe helped in an uncle’s flower shop on Western Avenue and sold insurance and real estate. During World War II, his typing skills (thanks to filling out insurance forms) got him working in military offices. After the war, he worked in a liquor store and then opened the flower shop in 1948.

He was later joined by his brother Henry. The store was at 2409 Lincoln Way W., South Bend. Right there on the corner of Olive and Lincoln Way.

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Brothers married sisters. Joe was married to Clear and Hank got married Marcia. Later Joe retired and Hank and Marcia ran the store. Later Hank died and Clara continued to run the shop until it was sold to Karen.

Joe’s son To M remember those days. The shop was in the middle of an old-fashioned neighborhood. Mersits grocery store and Tuesley pharmacy on the other corner. Ice down the block. There were neighborhood churches in all directions. “Dad loved connecting with people. He liked to lay the flowers in the church for a wedding and show the bride how to hold the flowers.

Tom remembers delivering flowers when he was in elementary school for the big holidays. “The whole family worked on Valentine’s Day or Easter. Every mother had to have a corsage for Mother’s Day. My father thrived in the business.

The corner was purchased and the building was demolished. In 1994 Karen built a new boutique at 3901 Lincoln Way W.

Palace of Flowers has a bit of everything.

Karen said it retained its neighborhood feel and had a stable clientele. During the pandemic, the store has remained busy with deliveries. “People couldn’t attend a funeral or visit anyone; they turned to florists. My phone rang for several months,” she said. “I’m lucky to be in this business.”

She is sure that she stays with him.

•••

A person who deserves a few more words.

Geraldine “Gerry” Dickey, 93, died in May. She retired after 55 years of service as a secretary at the South Bend Tribune. She was the editor’s secretary. She was an institution.

Gerry Dickey poses for a photo in her office at the South Bend Tribune December 8, 2008. She worked as the editor's secretary for 55 years.

She must have suffered from being close to the newsroom and the band of miscreants who occupied that space. Kind of like living near the circus, but she took it well.

Gerry was organized and helpful for those who were never in good shape. Every office needs a Gerry.

•••

An afterthought or two (or a space-filling device).

I like Jon Hamm selling insurance with Flo. Jon Hamm could be selling stuffed animals.

I like the phrase “icky birdy bits” in a recent dog food ad. I don’t like the idea of ​​”little birds”, but I appreciate the creativity.

I enjoy the summer months, democracy, a free press and strawberries.

Contact Kathy at [email protected].

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