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Flower Shop Flourishes with the Generations

Labo's Flowers and Gifts has served multiple generations of families at its Joliet store.

Owner Barbara Bracken has seen it time and time again. A woman who bought her wedding flowers at Labo's Flowers and Gifts decades ago brings the next generation of her family into the store to buy her daughter's wedding flowers. Bracken has worked at the shop since 1977.

"I started at Joliet Central (High School), at the horticulture class there," she said. "I enjoyed the class and thought I'd like to go in that direction."

What began as a job, ended up being a career and in 1999, Bracken bought the shop.

Her favorite part of being a florist is the time she gets to interact with the customers. She likes knowing that she is helping someone express a feeling.

"It's an emotional business," she said.

Bracken sees people at their happiest - proms, homecoming dances, weddings - and their saddest - funeral or graveside flowers.

Right now, Bracken said, the flower field is in its slow period.

"Our quiet season usually runs July to mid-December," she said.

Although people do not usually buy flowers for Thanksgiving celebrations anymore, there is still a fairly strong customer base for Christmas flowers.

"They're buying centerpieces to send to family if they're not going to be home," she said.

That trend, though, does not extend to other holidays celebrated in the winter months. Customers do not, for example, tend to buy centerpieces for Hanukkah celebrations.

While Bracken said that the best part of her job is the people, the hardest to deal with is getting through the slow season and surviving the busy months.

"The hours are really long sometimes," she said.

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