New local flower shop gets established in downtown Lynchburg

With Lynchburg’s rediscovered urban core comes a trickle of new downtown business also rediscovering what downtown vending means. For Kelli Willis, owner of The Hip Tulip, this renewal brings both her entrepreneurial spirit and her creative one into play.

Willis established The Hip Tulip in downtown Lynchburg because she saw the need for a flower shop.

“Because I’m the only flower shop that’s in the area, I carry nice things (and) the store is laid out well,” she said. “I get positive feedback from people because it’s something that’s not here in this general vicinity.”

According to Willis, the rising population and increased density downtown increases the need for services like flower shops. While she has been in Lynchburg for less than a year, she has already begun to notice the shift.

“I’ve seen revitalization taking place,” Willis said. “I think there’s a big push for it – there’s a lot of support and I see it all as positive. People are seeing that it’s a nice place to visit, stop in for the day and walk around.”

Aiming to welcome that broad range of customers, Willis’ store stocks a wide variety of products not typically found in flower shops. Candles, bath accessories and other home goods rest on displays featuring the local creators who supply
Willis’ store.

Sustainability is a major focus of The Hip Tulip, according to Willis’ only full-time employee Colleen Dykstra.

Liz Fitch | Liberty Champion
REVIVE — Owner of The Hip Tulip, Kelli Willis, adds a new flare to downtown.

“We recycle everything that we use,” Dykstra said. “All of our beauty products and soaps are naturally made.”

Sustainability plays a role in how Willis designs her arrangements. When an engaged couple, a business or a grieving family comes to her in need of floral arrangements, Willis takes an unconventional approach.

“I don’t carry carnations – I don’t carry a lot of things that flower shops tend to carry,” Willis said. “I tend to not be boring.”

Wildflowers, noninvasive plants which grow locally and looser structures separate her arrangements from her local competitors.

“People are looking for something different because you cannot find it anywhere else – they know what they want, and this is it,” she said. “I like plants that you can find in a garden.”

After moving to Appomattox from Connecticut, Willis noticed some interesting changes to her business model. The average marrying age for Lynchburg couples is distinctively lower than where she came from, so she receives more wedding commissions than she did before. With all the colleges in the area, she sees the younger population as a positive help to her business.

“I think it gives the kids the opportunity to pick and choose what they want, and since we have unusual flowers, we get a lot of feedback,” Willis said.

Since Willis wants the focus of the store to be on locally-made and unconventional arrangements, customers can expect slightly higher prices than a typical flower shop. However, for Willis, the marginally higher price is worth it.

“I liked the thought of doing something more unique and downtown,” Willis said. “It’s not like other flower shops in the way (that) we don’t follow formulaic design. We put our own creative expression in it.”

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