BY JANIE ROSMAN
Photos submitted by Dykstra Florist
The New Year brings new opportunities for Dykstra Florist and Greenhouse of Spring Valley, and Schweizer Beautiful Flowers of Pearl River, whose early January 2016, merger will form Schweizer & Dykstra Beautiful Flowers.
Respective owners MariEllyn Dykstra-Donnellan and Chris Kormusis, both 53, anticipate the opportunities it will bring to their family’s businesses when Dykstra Florist relocated to Schweizer’s 165 North Middletown Rd. location. “It’s all about trust and community service and having the answers, and being there for people,” Dykstra-Donnellan said.
Dykstra-Donnellan assured that her shop is not going out of business. “We’re moving three miles away and merging with another florist. People can still come here and have a cup of coffee and talk. We have positive energy.”
A woman she’s not seen in years came into the shop upset, and then another man walked in. “I was hugging the woman whose family is ill, and a man came in who needed roses and hugged her. A third man walked in, and we were all giving her hugs,” she said. “Then the two men who didn’t know each other gave each other hugs. That’s the feeling you have when you come in here.”
“MariEllyn’s father and my uncle (Gus Pappas) knew each other from 1960, and I’ve known her for the past 22 years,” Kormusis said. “We’re old-school florists and have a great rapport, so when she approached me with the idea to merge, I knew it was meant to be.”
“Dykstra Florist (Abe Stevens and Sons) began on Route 45 as a grower’s greenhouse as well,” she said. Both greenhouse locations sold its fresh flowers throughout Rockland County and in New York City from the late 1800s.
In 1960, Marilynn and Al Dykstra bought the property and greenhouses in Spring Valley and began a retail floral business, where their children Scott, MariEllyn and Lynn worked. “Long time Rockland residents may remember the history of these two flower stores,” she said. “Schweizer owned greenhouses on the Pfizer site and Route 304, and when the new highway was built, the greenhouses were destroyed.”
“She (MariEllyn) has a recipe for a success business as we do, and the merger won’t change anything for our customers,” Kormusis said. “She a second-generation florist, and I’m third generation, and we intend to offer our customers the same personal service as we have been doing.”
Dykstra-Donnellan is a past president of Spring Valley Rotary Club and is a second-generation florist; Kormusis is a past president of the Pearl River Rotary Club and is a third-generation florist. In 2011 she received the Rockland Business Association Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in Business.
“We get out there in the community, at hospitals, collecting food each week for pantries and day care centers, where it’s needed,” she said.
“At a time where the internet is taking control of the consumer, we are finding that they are coming back and looking for the small flower business in their community,” Dykstra-Donnellan said. While the new store is smaller it’s a triple storefront.
Dykstra-Donnellan said a program started in one East Ramapo district school gained has become a favorite annual project during the past 10 years.
Each year around February 8 or 9 her store receives about six to eight boxes of valentines for distribution to veterans at the Montrose and Castle Point Vas, and to various nursing homes, an initiative coordinated with her husband, Rockland County Veterans Services Director Jerry Donnellan.
“Students in the Elmwood Elementary School began writing thank-you notes to veterans overseas or in hospitals and include care packages,” she said. “Fifteen years later the school is still involved with the project.”
Fifteen years ago Dykstra-Donnellan’s son James was a student in 4th-grade teacher Carolynne Bayer’s class.
“I asked the kids to bring in toiletries and cards to send to veterans, and they did,” she said. The project was so successful that the following year it expanded to additional classes, and now the entire school is involved.
“Last year we made 150 toiletry bags that were given to veterans,” she said. Last year Senator Carlucci (D-Rockland Westchester) made a personal visit to veterans at the Montrose VA so we made 300 bags. “The whole school donates toiletries, and the kids write a card or friendly letter.”
For information about the project call Dykstra Florist at 845-356-0112, email [email protected], or visit www.dykstraflorist.com. Call Schweizer Florist at 845-735-4079, email [email protected] or visit www.schweizerflorist.com.