The Annandale Florist, located at 7224 Columbia Pike in Annandale, is a family-owned business with a strong sense of community. The Sherfey family opened the shop in 1955. "We're glad to be in Annandale and to serve the community like we have for the last 55 years," said owner Gary Sherfey.
Sherfey and his wife Pat live one mile from the store. "Annandale has become diversified," Sherfey said. "I think it's a good thing. Different nationalities are trying to work together for the good of everything."
Sherfey's parents Mable and Gilbert started the business from their home. "My dad liked to grow orchids and fooled around with different potted plants and things like that," said Sherfey. "My mom bought this building from two school teachers in the early 1950s and worked in the florist while my dad continued to work at Safeway."
Gilbert Sherfey worked at Safeway for 28 years before pursuing his green thumb professionally. Mable Sherfey worked in the florist for almost four years before Gilbert left Safeway and devoted most of his time to the flower shop.
A garden center existed in the shop until the mid-1960s when everything was converted to the florist. The competition grew steep when Hechinger and other home improvement stores started opening in Northern Virginia. "My parents thought it would be a better idea to concentrate on the florist," said Sherfey.
Gary started working at the florist full-time in 1970. He worked alongside his brother Ramon for eight years. "Then [my brother] decided that he wanted to go into the plant business so he left and did his own thing," he said.
Now Sherfey's wife works at the shop occasionally and around the holidays. His oldest son Brian works with him year-round. "My son and I get along really well," he said.
Sherfey said owning a family company makes it difficult to turn off his inner businessman when closing time rolls around. "[The florist] is always sticking in the back of my mind," said Sherfey. "I might wake up at certain times in the night and say, 'Oh, I need this!' and jot it down."
Sherfey also said a lot of things have changed in the past 40 years with the emergence of technology and the Internet. "People are able to diversify their buying habits," he said. "That way they can send just about anything in the world that they want."
Developments in technological haven't necessarily helped business, Sherfey said, because people now have more gift choices and don't always have to rely on flowers or plants. On the other hand, he thinks it provides diversification. "The Internet is not necessarily an asset for more business, but it's a good tool," he said.
The Annandale Florist has many local customers and also customers who have relocated, but continue to stay in touch. The shop is unique because of its accessibility. The phones are answered directly by the florist between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but customers can place orders or ask questions whenever they want via the 24-hour call center or the website.
The Sherfey's hope the accommodating nature of the shop will help the business during the economic recession. "We're working harder," said Sherfey. "People don't have as much disposable income and flowers aren't a necessity."
Sherfey said the shop runs specials from time to time on roses and other flowers. "We always try to be accommodating to people who need something delivered at a certain time," he said.
The Annandale Florist offers arrangements for funeral designs, hospitals, anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions. The florist is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday.For a full list of arrangement options and prices, visit their website.