Soderberg’s Floral says ‘thank you’ in a big way

Posted on 02 October 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Soderberg’s Floral general manager Kym Erickson put together a two-day fall festival on the heels of a summer of unrest and a pandemic to thank the community for supporting the shop for 97 years. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

When Soderberg’s Floral general manager Kym Erickson started planning for the first ever Longfellow Fall Festival, she thought, “I’ll be happy if 100 people come out for this.”
As the list of activities kept growing longer for the Sept. 19 and 20 community celebration, she started to wonder if she should hire security for crowd control. It’s not easy planning for a two-day, outdoor open house on the heels of a summer of unrest, in the middle of a pandemic. Especially when you’re advertising free hot dogs for all; how many do you buy?
Soderberg’s has been a family-owned, Longfellow business since 1925. Erickson said, “Usually at this time, we’d just have just finished a run at the Minnesota State Fair. That didn’t happen this year, of course. I decided to throw a celebration of our own, as a way of thanking our customers for supporting us during the events of this summer and for the past 97 years.”
What a year it has been. Erickson explained, “Walk-in purchases are down, and we’ve lost every bit of our corporate sales, weddings, and events. Luckily, our online business has more than doubled, and that’s gone a long way toward equalizing our losses.”

This new mural was painted by local resident Martha Floerchinger at Soderberg’s Floral. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

She continued, “Flowers are an appropriate way of expressing what words cannot. Maybe you would have taken your 84 year-old mother out to lunch for her birthday before COVID struck. Now you’re likely to send her a nice bouquet of flowers instead.”

For the Longfellow Fall Festival, weekend activities were scheduled from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Soderberg’s parking lot. The backdrop was a newly commissioned mural painted by local artist Martha Floerchinger, which covers an exterior wall on the west side of the flower shop. Four hands representing four different skin colors hold a bouquet of flowers, under the words, “Longfellow Welcomes All.”
Many of the weekend activities were classic street festival: live music, spin painting, balloon twisting, and a sidewalk sale.

Kids enjoy activities such as spin painting at the fall festival on Sept. 20 at Soderberg’s Floral. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Others were offered to meet the unique needs of this moment in time. There was a best mask contest, because everyone had to wear a mask. Free haircuts were offered by Southwest Metro School of Cosmetology, for festival goers tired of the haircuts they’d been giving themselves since March. There was a community project where families could decorate pieces cut from a huge Styrofoam wreath, and the pieces were put together again at the end of the day to make a circle.

Erickson and her staff were motivated to give back to the community in a big way, after what has been an extraordinarily difficult summer. She said, “It was an idea born out of all the generosity we’ve received. This was our ‘thank you.’”
T-shirts with the “Longfellow Welcomes All” mural design will be available for $20 through while supplies last. Soderberg’s is located at 3305 East Lake Street.

Free carriage rides were offered on the street and alley by the HItching Company.