Flowers are a language of their own. They are used to articulate moments of celebration, milestones and even loss. They are a gesture of kindness and for 41 years, Brad Hogan, the owner of Fort Floral, has been extending that kindness through his flower shop to members in the Rainy River District.
Sadly, the time has come time for Hogan to say good bye. He will be retiring on January 17, 2021.
Born in Fort France, Hogan and began his retail career working at a department store, sweeping the floors. He eventually worked his way up to district manager for the company, traveling around Canada from store to store.
Owning a flower shop was not always the plan for Hogan. He was not living in Fort Frances at the time but had gotten married and was starting a family when his mother told him about the flower shop in Fort Frances that was for sale. She suggested Hogan buy the shop. Hogan’s son Troy says it was probably a ploy to get her son to move back home. Whether that is true or not, it worked and Hogan bought Fort Floral.
He initially knew nothing about the upkeep of flowers and plants before buying the store but was keen on learning. He went to Chicago where he learned how to care for the flowers and plants that would soon fill his store.
Troy recalls fond memories of the shop growing up. Some of them include playing in the boxes in the back room, dipping his hands in the cool water and running them over the shiny coins at the bottom of the wishing fountain in his father’s store and having water fights with the sprayers used to water the flowers.
Troy said that although he’s the youngest in the family, Fort Floral has always been his father’s baby.
In his 41 years of business, Hogan has thought of fun ways to involve the community whether it is holding a contest to name the Mountie mannequin outside his shop, or Good Neighbor Day, where he handed out bouquets of roses with the hope that the person would keep one flower for themselves and give the others to friends and neighbours. Or one his newer additions, Lexi, the mannequin from Arizona, who famously swung her arms in a circular motion, begging passersby to read her sign.
Barb MacDonald worked for Hogan for over 20 years as a part time employee. Over those two decades she said there were many laughs shared, remembering when the store would often be quiet on Saturday afternoons and to fill the silence Hogan would call the store on his cellphone and chat with the employees.
Troy says his father has always been a creative person. Painting, drawing murals, rockwork and landscaping. Troy says his father enjoys the creative aspects of owning a flower shop and would continue running it if he could but at 76, he cannot do things like he used to.
“We’ve been bothering him to retire for a long time but he didn’t want to leave the town without a flower shop,” Troy said. “It was almost like he had this thing where he felt like the people of Fort Frances just deserved to have the store and he held on as long as he could.”
Former employee, Iris Mclain, said the 23 years she worked with Hogan were filled with laughter and fond memories of the shop. Mclain added that Hogan had an eye for design and “could make anything and it turned out beautiful.”
As a small business, Troy said his father cherished the compliments he received and the people he met. Although it is bittersweet, Hogan will now be able to spend more time with his sons who live in B.C.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Troy said they cannot throw a retirement party or help his father pack up the store.
Although there cannot be a proper send off for Hogan, there is still a way for the community to send their well wishes.
If you have any fond memories of Fort Floral or Hogan, pictures and videos, or just want to say goodbye, you can email email@example.com. Hogan’s family are hoping to take any submissions they get and assemble them for him in a video send-off.