Follow-Up File: Floral Design branches out and blooms

Name: Amanda Rounds

Job: Owner

Business: Shell Beach Floral Design

What she said then:

Previously a home-based business, Shell Beach Floral Design opened a storefront on West Grand Avenue in Grover Beach in late 2009.

That was about six months before the city began a construction project to spruce up the street between Second and Fourth streets, Amanda Rounds told The Tribune last April.

“People are relieved that it’s over,” she said. “I have noticed more traffic, more flow.”

What she says now:

When Rounds chose her storefront, with 1,500 square feet for a gift shop, she hoped retail sales would contribute about half of her company’s income.

“I invested a lot of money into creating the retail,” she said recently. “The beginning of this year was pretty tough. The last six months have been much better.”

It’s been a year since street construction ended. Her trickle of walk-ins is steadily growing. To entice locals, she holds classes, art openings and receptions, staying in contact with e-mail newsletters.

On Nov. 11, the shop celebrated its second anniversary with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring the artwork of Judy Chapel.

Summer tourism hasn’t helped in-store sales much.

“The tourists are generally lookers,” Rounds said. “They buy low-end things.”

But about 85 percent of her wedding orders come from out-of-towners marrying on the Central Coast, and some of those lookers leave a deposit. Most are from the Central Valley and Southern California.

“This is a huge destination location,” Rounds said. “We used to see huge weddings.”

Lately, her brides are tightening their event budgets. The shop has seen an increase in bookings, though, so in terms of overall income, Rounds said it “averages out.”

The Wedding Report Inc., which produces an annual measure of bridal spending nationwide, confirmed the average spent on bridal flowers was down in the first quarter of 2011. In each product category, spending dropped between 2 percent and 8 percent from 2010.

While retail hasn’t panned out as well as expected, Rounds has no regrets because the storefront has provided a necessary anchor for special event bookings.

“When you work out of your home, you tend to meet in cafés. You don’t have everything you need to show a bride. You’ve got portfolios,” she said. “My wedding business has increased 40 percent because of the retail location.”