Originally published in Roanoke Times 08/31/10 view online article and pictures here: http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/business/wb/258748
Wine and roses (and pooches)
Radford City Florist offers not just flowers, but also a wide selection of wines and a shelter for dogs.
Sean Kotz, Special to The Roanoke Times
RADFORD -- If you walk into Radford City Florist some afternoon, you might be surprised to find a wide selection of unique wines amid the flowers.
And maybe a few four-legged helpers as well.
In addition to being a flower shop, Radford City Florist carries more than 50 varieties of wine, while the back room serves as temporary shelter for rescued Airedales and Airedale mixes.
Co-owners Curtis Graham and Jeff Corbin have been running the shop at 1120 E. Main St. for 21 years.
For the first 15 years, Radford City Florist was a floral gift shop exclusively, but six years ago the owners applied for an ABC license because they saw the potential for adding wine to their gift baskets.
"That's when we started to carry a limited stock of wines, especially Virginia wines," Graham said.
Then, when Vintage Cellar closed its Radford shop, they saw the opportunity to expand.
"The biggest one people keep coming back for is the Chocovine," which combines red wine and chocolate that mixes well with ice cream for a unique dessert, Graham said.
In addition, there are traditional reds and whites, champagne for special occasions and beer baskets, which are popular for Father's Day.
"We do a lot of carryouts, and a good number of wine and roses orders at Valentine's Day, but we also deliver," Graham said.
The wine baskets are made to order. Customers select the wine they want to send and various foods can be added.
"We may do a basil or tomato pesto with flavored crackers," said Graham, listing the options. "We've got flavored coffees, we've got cookies, we've got salsas. We can come up with just about anything people might want in the basket."
Additionally, the owners can create theme baskets, and they carry Paula Deen products as well.
But don't expect the package to be dropped off with your 8-year-old.
Recipients must be present when the wine is delivered and show identification upon receipt.
The shop itself offers daily specials, including $9.95 for a dozen medium-stem roses for cash customers and a "happy hour."
In the last hour of the business day, mixed wrapped flowers are half price if you pay in cash.
Cornelia King, a customer since the shop opened, says she appreciates having a fine wine shop in town.
"The best thing about their wine selection is that you cannot get any of their wines anywhere else in this area, including Roanoke," King said. "They are quality wines and they are at a good price."
Another customer who has been with Radford City Florist for decades is Kay Ellerman.
"They insist on quality," Ellerman said, "and their work is beautiful. I have never been disappointed with them and no special occasion in our family is without flowers from them."
But it is not just the wines and flowers that bring regulars into the shop.
For the past seven years, Radford City Florist has opened its back room to house the transition animals and have helped at least two dozen dogs find new homes.
Graham said the environment is good for both the dogs, who become better socialized, and the customers who enjoy the additional life they bring to the place.
For all these reasons, Graham said the shop has developed a steady customer base, though he admits advertising the closeout deals on the wines on the store window has brought in a lot of new people.
"I don't think people realize what a variety of wines we have at a closeout or reduced price," said Graham, who prices many wines to encourage people to try new products.
"We want to have a good turnover and so we are constantly moving and bringing new things in."