Main Street Florist provides flowers for Illinois Senate
By Misty Fritz
A Carlinville business had a chance last week to show off its best work for state officials: Main Street Florist, owned by Sarah LoBue, was chosen as the official florist of the 2019 Illinois State Senate Inauguration of the 101st General Assembly, held at the Capitol Building in Springfield on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
LoBue said Main Street Florist got the job through “pure luck,” as someone in Springfield had seen the company’s work and brought it up when florists were being considered. “They reached out to us, and we did a proposal for them, went up and met them in person, did measurements, saw what all the job would take,” said LoBue. “It was just word of mouth, really. Somebody was familiar with us and mentioned us.”
Main Street Florist provided about 90 feet of linear garland, two large pieces on the main podium area, large arrangements in openings on the sides of the chamber, and two large pieces near the chamber doors. “In past years, they typically have done florals in those spots, but they were looking for our input on some changes they could make,” said LoBue. “They changed up the color scheme this year, so we got to be a little bit creative but at the same time suit what they knew worked in the space.” The color scheme for this year was white and gold (plus greenery), whereas in past years it has been red, white and blue. “For the Senate, with their invitations and just the room itself, the colors are red and gold, so we played off of that. It made it feel very stately, and it worked out very well.”
The state first reached out in August or September, and by the end of November, Main Street Florist had the job. However, they couldn’t start putting everything together until shortly before the inauguration. “We had to order product ahead of time, but we couldn’t really start because everything is fresh product,” said LoBue. “A lot of the product came in a week before, and then we came in on Sunday to the shop and started creating some of the garlands and things we could do ahead of time. We went up and set up the evening of Tuesday, the 8th, and the inauguration was the next day. Really, we had about 48 hours or so to put it all together and get it all up there to set it up.”
LoBue said two designers put everything together, and she and two other staff members did the setup in Springfield. “We were fortunate when we got there that their maintenance crew was also a help to us,” she said. “It took us a couple of hours to set up. Everyone up there was really helpful, and it was a really neat experience. All the senators had left for the day, and all that was left was the Senate staff and maintenance crew, and they were busy doing things, too, like hanging flag banners, setting up chairs and getting everything ready for the next day. The capitol itself was pretty quiet, outside of those areas, but we kind of got to see behind-the-scenes of how it all gets pulled together.”
In terms of scale, LoBue said the inauguration is roughly comparable to a wedding. “That’s the first time, obviously, that we’ve ever done that, but we are trying to grow into doing more corporate work like that, whether it be for offices or events. It’s something people don’t always know that we can do and that we offer.”
The inauguration was also a learning experience for LoBue and her staff. “Anytime you have an event like that, we always learn something,” she said. “We always come back to the shop and take notes of what we could have done differently, even if maybe it’s just the way we pack the van or remembering what tools to bring to make sure it goes smoother next time. This one honestly went pretty darn smooth, but if we get the job again in two years, we’ll know some other pieces they were thinking about adding or what we can do when setting up to save us some time… If anything, what we learned the most is to have the confidence that we can do jobs like that and to put ourselves out there more to offer the service. Customers don’t know what you have until you offer it.”
As for whether she’d like to decorate for the inauguration in the future, LoBue said, “If they’ll have us, we’d love to do it again.”
Main Street Florist’s Trista Boehler hangs garland on the Senate floor in advance of the Jan. 9 inauguration. Photo provided by Sarah LoBue.