By LORINDA KAY
Special for The Record
When you walk into the Flying Bear and see the bounty of fresh and unusual flowers, you know it’s not an ordinary flower shop.
What makes it different are the floral bouquets. Each one is distinctive, with a style that’s unstructured, seasonal and whimsical, according to owner Melissa Brown — not something you will find in a catalogue.
“The style is driven by inspiration from the farm, forest and the sea,” Brown said. “The look is as natural as possible.”
Brown and co-owner Ben Courteau opened the boutique in September on First Street in Langley after moving to Whidbey four years ago. They offer full service floral design and delivery to the South End. Also, event and wedding flowers with seasonal sources from their own three-fourth-acre farm, also located in Langley, or from other West Coast growers.
They also offer “authentic and nourishing gifts,” according to Brown, from bio regional makers and lots of items from local artists. Unique flower and plant jewelry by Toby Nelson, pottery by Tracey Rock and glass art by Brown’s own parents, Molly and David Brown.
Customers can choose their own flowers to create a bouquet or use Brown’s design talent. Several workshops will also be offered with their flexible space. Classes this fall and winter will include floral design, wreath making, art and self-care, some taught by Brown others by guest instructors.
Flying Bear Farm began in Seattle in 2012 as a pop-up flower and vegetable market stand with occasional floral arrangements for weddings and special events, but what Brown and Courteau both sought was a different community. After an extensive search, they found Langley.
“We wanted a community like this,” Courteau said. “We walked into City Hall and saw the edible garden and the Second Street gardens and knew this was where we could start our farm.”
The Second Street Farmer’s Market gave them the venue to meet local people and gain recognition for their design style. Courteau was farmer’s market manager for three years.
They located a multi-generational home and enough room for the flower farm on Al Anderson Avenue, and a store-front location became possible with a loan through Whidbey Island Local Lending, or WILL.
According to Janet Ploof, president of Langley Main Street Association, the organization’s goal is to influence people in exactly the same way as Brown and Courteau.
“Main Street projects are all designed to build confidence in Langley as a solid place for business, so we can attract new people and new business like Flying Bear.”
Brown said she and Courteau are happy it did.
“We love being in a downtown with so much heart and participation,” Brown said. “We feel so much love from the community. We want to extend that out to others.”
The shop is located at 207 First Street and is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday but Wednesday.
Editor’s note: Lorinda Kay is the program manager for Main Street.