When the Olympic winners take the podium over the next two weeks, they won’t just get a medal. They’ll also get a flower bouquet. All those bouquets had to come from somewhere, of course, and it turned out to be “Just Beginnings Flowers” with a little help from Margitta’s Flowers. The World’s Jason Margolis visited the little flower shop that could in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.
Read the Transcript
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.
MARCO WERMAN: The Olympic countdown is almost over. The Vancouver Winter Games finally start tomorrow. A lot of medals will be handed out over the next two and a half weeks, and every athlete that winds up on the podium will get something else, flowers. Somebody has to make all those Olympic bouquets, of course. The World’s Jason Margolis visited the little flower shop that could in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.
JASON MARGOLIS: It’s quiet at the Just Beginnings flower shop. Owner June Strandberg is getting ready to close up at 4:00 in the afternoon. She peeks into her flower refrigerator and says, it was a good day.
JUNE STRANDBERG: Well we don’t have much left today now in here.
MARGOLIS: On a typical day Strandberg sells about 20 bouquets. For the Olympics and Paralympics, she’ll be making a lot more.
STRANDBERG: Eighteen hundred, 1800 bouquets total.
MARGOLIS: That’s a big jump for a small suburban flower shop. But you won’t find anybody with more experience than Strandberg.
STRANDBERG: I’m 75 years old, okay. So I’ve been in the business since I’ve been a very young girl. I was raised in it.
MARGOLIS: Strandberg’s experience helped her land the Olympic job. She was one of 58 florists who applied. But still, 1,800 bouquets is a lot of work for anyone. So Strandberg is teaming up with 67-year-old florist Margita Schulz, owner of Margita’s Flowers in North Vancouver. Schulz says the two women hadn’t met before they paired specifically for the Olympics.
MARGITA SCHULZ: When she told me that she had 60-odd year’s experience, I said oh sh–, I only have 20 years experience. And that’s what sort of bonded us.
MARGOLIS: The two women put their heads together and tried to design the perfect Olympic bouquet. They did their homework, studying flowers from Olympics past.
STRANDBERG: There’s a lot of bouquets to look at, definitely.
MARGOLIS: What’s your favorite?
STRANDBERG: You know, I didn’t really find one I overly like. I didn’t like last year’s, Beijing, I didn’t like that at all.
MARGOLIS: What didn’t you like about it?
STRANDBERG: I thought it was too big, number one. I thought it was very boring and I thought it was a little bit, I didn’t like the shape of it. It looked like a torch.
MARGOLIS: So Strandberg and Schulz set out to design something really different. And what will their new Olympic bouquet look like?
STRANDBERG: I don’t really have anything much to say about that.
MARGOLIS: Yeah. Strandberg deflected the question because the bouquets are being kept a surprise. The two women won’t get rich from this contract, but they say being chose as Olympic florists isn’t about the money. Schulz recalls the moment they found out that their flowers would be seen by three billion people watching the Olympics.
STRANDBERG: Well, you know, it was such a long process that at the end we said okay, that’s nice.
MARGOLIS: There’s more to story than flowers. Strandberg and Schulz weren’t selected just for their expertise. Strandberg’s staff also played an important role.
STRANDBERG: And I work mainly with people, women that are marginalized. And that could be women that are coming from prison, women at risk, that type of women.
MARGOLIS: And when Strandberg thinks about those women being recognized by Olympic organizers –
STRANDBERG: What a nice thing to do. I just thought it was a great thing.
MARGOLIS: For The World, I’m Jason Margolis, Surrey, British Columbia.
WERMAN: You can see Strandberg and Schulz’s bouquets when they are presented to the first medal winners on Saturday. You can see the flower ladies themselves now on our website, the world dot org.
Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.