From the joy of weddings to the sorrow of funerals, Liz Bremner has been part of many lives as an employee and later owner of the Fresh Flower Market in downtown Barrington,
But the European-style flower business that began on Main Street in 1987 will make its final sales Saturday. Bremner, 64, who worked at the Fresh Flower Market for four years then bought it from its founder in 2001, said it's time to retire and close the business.
As she took a break Thursday, Bremner said she'll miss her clientele. The Lake Barrington resident has shared many hugs with visitors in her pleasantly fragrant shop over the past couple of weeks since word of the closing spread.
"All the customers that come in, we are there for all the important occasions in their lives," she said. "They come when they've got a new birth. They come when they know somebody's sick. They come when somebody has an anniversary, a birthday, weddings and funerals. So, a full cycle from birth until death, they come to their local florist and you feel like you've been there with them."
Employee Barb Eppolito of Algonquin said she met Bremner about 15 years ago. She said she's enjoyed her design work and customers at the shop.
"I'm happy for (Bremner and her husband) to retire and go on to the next chapter in their lives," Eppolito said.
Although known for its tulips imported directly from the Netherlands and selections from South America, the business has not been just about flowers. Bremner's store became a showcase for local artists every two months through her support of a Barrington nonprofit organization.
Diane Morino, steering committee chair of the Barrington Cultural Arts Center, said Bremner's support was appreciated.
"She'll be sorely missed," Morino said. "She really will be, on many levels."
Jeani Allaway, a cultural arts steering committee member and 30-year Barrington resident, said she always could count on getting a nice gift quickly at the Fresh Flower Market. She also complimented Bremner's novelty flower displays.
"She has a unique taste in flowers," Allaway said.
Saying she didn't want to see another pretty shop fold, Bremner purchased the Fresh Flower Store 16 years ago after a deal with another potential owner fell through. However, she could not find a suitable buyer for her business.
"Now, I feel bad that nobody is taking over for me," said Bremner, who plans to spend more time with her husband and family along with possibly getting involved in prairie restoration as a volunteer. "It's bittersweet."