BRAWLEY — If you are looking for flowers and arrangements in Imperial Valley, chances are someone will direct you to the Brawley Floral shop located on the Plaza and to the floral creations within its walls. With one step inside, one is met with a vision of color and sweet aromas that are difficult to dispel for the rest of the day.
Owner Betty Lou Parish had two dreams in life — either to own a cattle ranch or a flower shop. Clearly the cattle ranch did not happen. However, when Parish was working at Imperial stores she received a call from an acquaintance saying the local flower shop was being sold.
“He called me and asked, ‘You want to buy a shop?’ and I said, ‘Are you kidding me!?’ recalled Parish.
She took over the shop February 6, 1966 and began selling flowers in Brawley. But Parish admitted she didn’t know a thing about flowers when she started, other than that she liked them.
“I knew they smelled good and they were happy,” said Parish.
Parish studied floral arrangements and eventually earned her credentials through a program in San Diego. She said she learned one of the most important lessons there, and that was to always try something when it came to work.
“You never say no. You give it your best shot, and you may not come back for seconds,” said Parish, which is is the same rule that Brawley Floral keeps to this day.
It took two moves before the shop settled in the current location on North Plaza Street where it’s remained for 30 years filling orders for weddings, parties, Valentine’s Day, and more. An average week in the shop sees at least 200 orders to fill, with up to 800 during holidays and orders from all over the Valley. The Brawley Union High School prom alone brings in about 300 orders every year.
For the people who buy arrangements and those who work at the store, Parish is like family.
“Brawley Floral is family,” said Kandi Archibald, who worked in the shop for almost four years. “Anytime we’ve needed designs we come here.”
“It’s really about reaching out to the community and making sure the kids look nice,” said Nadia Avastigui, one of many florists who have worked with Parish at Brawley Floral over the years. “Betty is a strong woman, and she’s taught us a lot.”
However, for Betty, the shop is a personal place, where art is created through arranging flowers that make people happy.
“I’ve met some wonderful people down the line,” said Parish. “There are a lot of memories in this place.”