Five at Plasterer’s Florist have dedicated 237 to designing floral arrangements


CHAMBERSBOURG – The same 10 hands that created flower arrangements for Christmas celebrations and milestones in life around half a century ago are still here today at Plasterer’s Florist and Greenhouse.

The top five floral designers at longtime family florist of 990 Lincoln Way West in Chambersburg have spent 237 years, combined, spreading congratulations, joy, gratitude and sympathy throughout the region through their floral designs. . All of them have been there for over four decades.

Two of them, Rhonda Wolff and Bonnie Taylor, have crossed the 50-year mark. The others follow closely: Densie Baranowski, 48; Ben Taylor, 45; and Steph Rice, 44.

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You don’t work with the same people for that long without really experiencing it together. They’ve been together for babies and grand-babies, weddings, tragedies and losses – the same important parts of life that they spend their days creating flower arrangements for others.

Ben Taylor can readily share the exact flowers he used to make a special bridal bouquet 41 years ago: white roses and miniature carnations in light and dark green.

Bonnie Taylor wore it down the aisle when she and Ben tied the knot in 1976, four years after meeting when he started working at Plasterer’s.

“And now we get to work side by side. I love it. She’s not crazy about it,” Ben joked, as Bonnie stood near her station, working on a flower arrangement, and agreed. calmly.

“Sometimes it’s a bit difficult,” she said.

Just as the Taylor’s relationship is closely linked to that of Plasterer’s Florist, so too are their lives and the lives of their fellow designers. In their sixties, they all spent their adulthood working at Plasterer.

Each of the ladies started out as secretary or clerk. Their initial interests in designing arrangements varied, but each got the job the same – after a few years in their original position, a place on the design floor opened up and the then owner , Herb Plasterer, offered it.

Today’s owner Greg Plasterer, Herb’s son, was young at the time; Baranowski recalled his boss’s days as a Boy Scout. As his employees watched him grow from a young man to now a grandfather, Plasterer said the situation had never stood in his way.

“My grandfather started the business. My father and his brother ran it. I was always kind of around,” he said.

He came to work at Plasterer after college in the late 1970s. Although studying to be a teacher, he knew, as Hervé’s only son, that the future of the family business lay with him. .

“We were growing as a business so I thought it would be a good opportunity,” he said.

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The flower industry has changed dramatically since Wolff, Baranoswski, Rice and the Taylors started at Plasterer’s in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Computers and the Internet have brought a plethora of floral possibilities to the eyes of customers, which has led to floral designers with less creative control.

Rice said Pintrest, a social network where people can find and share ideas for food, home and style, is particularly popular.

Technology has made it harder to design arrangements, Baranoski said.

“Previously we just had an arrangement and it was our choice. Now we have to conform to a picture and some people are really specific and it has to be exactly like a picture. So when we are really busy every order that we take, we have to go to the computer, look at the picture, come back, take it, and then repeat the process, so it takes longer, ”she said.

This can sometimes lead to nitpicking. As a reporter visited the design room last Friday, one of the designers was told that a client was not entirely happy with an arrangement she made from a photo, flowers and of greenery in the shape of a small Christmas tree, because it does not look like the photo.

It also creates more chances for changed minds. For example, Rice was done with the early stages of an arrangement when she had to start over, because the customer decided they wanted a basket instead of the vase they originally chose.

While Baranowski said it might take a little longer for her and the other designers to recover from the holiday rush (although Valentine’s Day is the busiest time), none of the five does plan to retire.

“We are getting older gradually. The only thing that gives up are our legs; standing on concrete is difficult,” said Ben Taylor.

But if any of them follow in the footsteps of some of Plasterer’s longest-serving employees – such as Herb Plasterer and longtime employee Elsie Ott, both of whom worked until their 90s – they have decades of work ahead of them.

“We could all retire,” Plasterer said with a laugh. “We do not know yet.”

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