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Niagara Falls
Sunday, March 19, 2023
SPONSORED: VanNoort family passes the floral torch to new owner
Sharon VanNoort passes the floral torch to Joanne Draper, the new owner of VanNoort Flower Studio. Richard Harley
Sharon and husband Rob, with the store’s founder Rita VanNoort, and the new owner, Joanne Draper. Richard Harley
Sharon and Joanne with staff members Lana Loney and Liliana Merante, who will help with the transition. Richard Harley

By Sharon VanNoort


VanNoort Florists has been serving the community for over 60 years.

Rita and Harry VanNoort started this business back in 1961. In February of 1985, Harry and Rita passed the torch to Robert and Sharon VanNoort.

As the owner of this little flower shop, I can’t tell you what it has meant to me personally to serve you over the years in this community.

Back in the day, the flower shop was where I live on the corner of Hunter Road and Creek Road. Rob and I and all our children grew up with our community coming and going out of our backyard. We have so many wonderful memories of our children growing up in a flower shop.

My best memory, one that I hold dear, is of two women: Ann Teggin, who worked in the flower shop, and Helen Bau, who worked in the greenhouse.

I loved these two women and they helped me so much over the years. We have worked with so many wonderful people over 60 years helping us make VanNoort Flower Studio what it is today.

A number of years ago we changed the name of the flower shop from VanNoort Florists to VanNoort Flower Studio. And in 2001 we moved the flower studio from our home to where it is today. We’ve enjoyed this location for 21 years.

There are so many things I love about being at this little flower shop. Firstly, are the people I work with and have worked with. From floral designers, delivery co-workers and customer service co-workers, flower suppliers and flower growers.

I have learned over the years that it requires a team effort to run a successful business, and I have had many “best teams” over the years.

A very close second, I love all the people who walk into VanNoort Flower Studio. The relationships we have built over the years have meant so much to me as a small business owner.

Over the last few years, I needed to start looking at passing the torch. Rob and I knew our flower shop would not go to a third generation so we needed to think about a transition.

With anything that you love and care for you want to make sure you make the right decisions.

Well, on July 7, 2022, Joanne Draper came into my shop. We talked and listened to each other and I had this “feels so right” feeling … and almost four months from that meeting I am passing the torch.

Nov. 1, 2022, marks a new beginning for Joanne and a new beginning for me. I am very happy to say that Joanne will have the support of Lana, Lilliana, Amy and Laura. These women have worked with me for many years and I love them and I am so happy that they will be working with Joanne.

Joanne comes with much experience and knowledge. She is a graduate from our local Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. She began her career working for the City of West Vancouver planting and maintaining the city gardens.

Then an opportunity presented itself as the head gardener at the Banff Springs Hotel and Joanne continued to expand her skills.

She returned to Ontario to start her own landscaping business in the Durham Region. After 15 years she welcomed the challenge of becoming the Head Perennial Grower for Kobes Nurseries, a large grower of nursery stock.

Throughout her career Joanne has designed and landscaped gardens for many of her clients as well as installed creative seasonal urns. Her parents, Brigitte and the late Case Bassie, are St. Davids residents, who are especially proud of their garden design.

Joanne has always had a dream to bring happiness to others through plants and flowers. She believes, as American botanist Luther Burbank stated, “Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

I look forward to taking her lead and working through a transition with her for as long as she feels necessary. So many exciting things to look forward to.

On Nov. 12, we will host an Open House, an opportunity for you to come in and meet Joanne and her team. I am very excited to see where Joanne will take the shop and I so look forward to seeing many of you on the 12th.

As for me, I may be stepping aside from what I have done for 37 years, but I have so much more to do. I will be more involved with epilepsy as this is a cause very close to me.

There are a few more organizations that I want to support so I am sure I will see you. I have been so fortunate with thesupport many of you have given me over the years, both personally and professionally, and I will forever hold that close to me.

Thank you for all the wonderful times that you let me into your life and you in mine. I look forward to my own next chapter as  well as the shop’s next chapter as Joanne takes over.

Thank you for letting me serve you and I hope to see you on Nov. 12.


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