A Family Business Memory - Part 2

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The Tree House

RINewsToday.com wants you to get to know our Rhode Island business owners. Many have fought the hard fight to climb to success and to stay in business. In this series, we will be featuring the history of “The Tree House” which is one of Rhode Island’s greatest treasures located on Centerville Road in Warwick. Co-Owner Michael Gerard takes us in a stroll down memory lane. So, look for our features - and enjoy! Congratulations to the entire “Ferns and Flowers”- now the “The Tree House” family as they celebrate forty years in business!

Join them for a celebration April 11th from 5-9PM!


We offered, in 1979, free delivery for flowers $12.50 or more.  A short time later the oil embargo took place. A charge was added to a $15.00 arrangement with $3 delivery... and people were upset!

We lived 12 minutes from the shop but needed to leave for work an hour ahead every other day.  The embargo created fuel shortages and daily price hikes. We would line up for gasoline on odd or even days depending on our license plate numbers.

It’s always a challenge to open a business from scratch, but even with hard work, world events challenged us. It was what it was - and still is!

Along the way, Rhode Island would see manufacturing businesses close, the Quonset Naval base shut down, and we experienced many recessions, hitting Rhode Island first, and coming out last.  And let’s not forget the DEPCO bank closings.

Despite the bleakness, God gave us a miracle talent - to touch peoples’ lives and I could work till the cows came home, because I loved doing it!! I was always amazed to see that if something as little as a single flower was given, or a large bouquet filled, it would brighten the eyes of anyone I delivered them to. I would open an office door on a delivery, and the room would light up with excitement!

No matter how bad the weather or the world, the result was the same, instant happier faces.   When I delivered to a nursing home, blank looking faces would animate with smiles instantly.   It is always wonderful to have the power to deliver happiness, the beauty of nature and flowers that God gave us.

God does “Say It With Flowers” and plants, trees, oceans, and mountains. His gifts include butterflies, birds, children, parents, kind acts for others, letters and phone calls, hugs, homemade pie, with ice cream!!!

Forty years later we deliver smiles in an environment filled with flowers.

Everywhere in the world, breaking bread together is a multigenerational bonding practice. 

Today we invite you and yours to The Tree House Tavern to share the blessings in a garden of colorful flowers, each unique and special, from the Dandelion to the Rose. Blessings!


Expanding our look....


We replaced the smaller front windows with large display windows. We shopped New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Denver. The eye-catching displays drove sales. The Outlet and Jordan Marsh stores closed, and we got many props from them.

What appears to by a family reunion, a lady comes and said she would like a single rose for each of her siblings. She wanted to give one to each of her siblings, as they were reuniting after being away from home when they returned to see their Dad.  Each was to go in and talk individually to the Dad and give him a rose and say their final goodbyes. I kind of lost it, it was impossible not to fill up with tears.


A Learning Memory


In the earlier years, a large funeral would be a two-day viewing, with trucks of flowers. One particular funeral filled four trucks with flowers, that costs thousands of dollars.

My little boy was delivering with me. I had him carry this little package into the parlor. The director called us in to the room. I showed my son what a wake was like by saying “see this is how it’s set and displayed. This is somebody’s Grandpa. This is how they say goodbye. Flowers make them feel a little better. ‘Wow, he said, neat!’

Of course, as soon as we got home, he said “Guess what Mom, guess what? I got to see a dead guy!!!”  My wife responded, “You damaged our son!”. Nah, he’s fine today.


A Heartwarming Memory


I recall this heart-warming story. Two country boys came to the flower shop and tell me that their Pops had passed away, and though he wasn’t a flower kind of guy at all, they wanted to do something for his services. How much would you like me to create it for? One brother finds a $20 and the other had $15.  Hmm, ok, $35; what was Pops like? In times of need, there is always something you can do to help, even if I add some extra.

They said he preferred to be alone in the woods, nature, cutting wood, hunting, fishing... So, I thought, keep it natural. I went out and bought one precious woodland $25 orchid, then went behind the shop and found a fallen branch with moss growing on it, cut grasses, fern fronds, tiny wild flowers, mushrooms, brown oak leaves; I created a magical woodland setting. They came in, looked at it and the two grown boys started to cry.

It was exactly Dad.

Making do with what you have is difficult but requires you to use your mind and your heart.  Money makes lots possible, but if you don’t have the passion, heart, and thought behind you, it is one dimensional.

Let my heart be my guide. And yours for you.


-Michael Gerard

Part 3 … Tomorrow

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