After greenhouse closes, longtime employee strikes out on her own



By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

PHILLIPSBURG -- Brenda Chanley turned a difficult situation into an opportunity.

Chanley has worked in flower shops for 26 years, the last 18 at Robinson Greenhouse.

"They closed in May, and I found myself without a job. I was 54 years old, and didn't know what to do. My husband (Norman) said, 'I think you should just open your own.' "

The Chanleys invested their own money along with getting a grant from the Phillips County E-center to open Blossoms & Butterflies. The floral and gift shop opened Nov. 15. Its website is www.blossomsnbutterflies.com.

The flower shop building used to be a wellness center and a restaurant before that.

It was one large room, and Norman Chanley, along with other family and friends, worked to make it usable space.

The smaller cooler had just an inch clearance to get in the door.

"It squeezed right in there," Chanley said.

The larger cooler came in pieces and had to be put together inside the building.

"Eight guys heard about it and came and helped. That's a small community," she said. "We had a lot of help from a lot of friends. We couldn't have done it without my friends."

Chanley moved to Phillipsburg 28 years ago.

"I would live nowhere else. I love the small-town life."

Becky Stapel, Chanley's daughter, is the store manager, and Chanley's friend, Shirley Vandeplas, "has been here every day helping. (There's) not been a day she hasn't been here, and she hasn't taken a dime."

Besides floral arrangements, it features items other shops don't have, she said.

Featured items include items handcrafted by local residents. There are scarves, hats and baby things from Velda Christy, and crocheted butterfly doilies made by Hilda Stapel.

Since there was a butterfly in the shop name, "she brought me one as a gift when we opened," Chanley said.

Aprons have proved to be a popular item.

"No one had aprons, and we've already reordered twice. They're going like hotcakes," she said.

The shop also sells bulk candy reminiscent of a former candy store.

"Little kids come in (and) have 50 cents and buy an ounce of candy," Chanley said.

She didn't want to offer only expensive gift items, but a variety -- including some gifts less than $10.

"When I opened the store, I wanted to have something that, no matter who it was, they could come in and buy a gift for somebody."