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Business is blooming at downtown flower shop

Every morning Ginny Mitchell and her daughter sprinkle rose petals on the sidewalk outside Simply That Flowers.

It’s not just a whimsical way for the shop’s owners to welcome another day. It’s a marketing strategy.

“We make a path,” 55-year-old Mitchell explained, “and people wonder why there are petals on the ground.”

Since November, the mother-daughter duo has been pulling sidewalk shoppers into their Canal Street business, which evokes the sweet aroma of a spring bloom.

Mitchell began arranging flowers six years ago in Yosemite National Park, including at the Ahwahnee Hotel, and notes that she is the only licensed florist within the park’s federal boundaries.

She makes arrangements for about 200 weddings each year and decided to open a Merced shop because it serves as a halfway point for faraway brides who don’t want to drive into Yosemite Valley’s floor.

Just a day before Valentine’s Day, Mitchell said she has only a couple dozen orders because people tend to wait until the last minute to show their affection.

Mitchell stocks about 20 floral varieties, and the average arrangement costs about $70, though residents can come in with just about any budget and walk out with flowers.

Kim Preciado, a UC Merced special events coordinator, orders flowers to send to employees’ homes when they have a death in the family or have fallen ill.

The flower shop has been convenient to work with, and its designs are beautiful, she said. “They’re simple and refreshing,” Preciado said.

While there are other florists in the area, Mitchell has tried to set herself apart by carrying harder-to-find flowers, such as oncidium orchids, kangaroo paws and Vanda orchids. Mitchell boasts of the shipments of flowers that arrive from San Francisco four times a week.

Nearly all the flowers are kept in a copper bathtub from 1780 — a display case that is un-refrigerated because they enjoy a quick turnaround with their supply.

“At home, you don’t enjoy flowers in a refrigerator,” 29-year-old daughter Natalie Galasso noted.

Mitchell, who describes herself as weird and different, tries to incorporate antiques, branches, jewelry and fruit into her designs.

“We’re from the Laguna Beach area,” she said, “and we think outside the box.”That is, the flower box.

Reporter Scott Jason can be reached at 209 385-2453 or