After announcing that the Lower Kootenai Band has purchased Morris Flowers, Chief Jason Louie presented owners Pat (Morris) Fleck and Lloyd Morris with a symbolic stick of woven sweetgrass.

After announcing that the Lower Kootenai Band has purchased Morris Flowers, Chief Jason Louie presented owners Pat (Morris) Fleck and Lloyd Morris with a symbolic stick of woven sweetgrass.

Lower Kootenay Band purchases Morris Flowers

“This is part of the long-term Lower Kootenai Band strategic plan as we take steps toward self-sufficiency.”

Chief Jason Louie announced on Friday that the Lower Kootenai Band has purchased the Morris Flowers downtown store and greenhouse property on Erickson Road.

“This is part of the long-term Lower Kootenai Band strategic plan as we take steps toward self-sufficiency,” he told a gathering in the LKB boardroom. “We need to build our economy. There are no get rich quick schemes—the best approach is to take calculated risks.”

The LKB is purchasing a business with a 65-year history in the Creston Valley. Lloyd Morris, who co-owns the Morris Flowers with his sister, Pat Fleck, outlined that history to a group that included Louie and LKB management, Town of Creston council members and staff, media and Morris family members.

“The business was started by our father, who worked at Whitburn’s Florists in Calgary in the 1940s. He moved to Fort Macleod to start growing flowers there but was flooded and blown out in the early 1950s,” he said.

Bill Morris heard about property for sale in Creston from Charlie Moore and, with his wife, Olive, and family, made the move west in 1953. On the Pine Street property, Bill started bedding plants in a building made from 2X4s, and eventually expanded to grow and arrange cut flowers. He delivered the arrangements on foot and became a familiar sight walking up to the hospital, flowers in hand.

It was at Olive’s insistence that the downtown location was eventually purchased, and their daughter Edith began to manage the shop after taking courses in flower arrangements By 1974, brothers Don and Lloyd had joined Edith in running the enterprise. Pat (Morris) Fleck, a younger sister, came on board a short time later and, having outgrown the Pine Street location, they purchased the Erickson Road property, which had been a market garden with a fruit stand.

“For the first couple of years we grew carnations to sell in the flower shop,” Lloyd said.

In the early 1980s both Don and Edith moved from Creston and in 1982 Pat and Lloyd became the company’s sole proprietors.

“It is a legacy,” Louie said of Morris Flowers, “a family-owned business. This was a difficult decision for Lloyd and Pat—they have put their heart and soul into this business and it shows. But the sale means a much-deserved retirement for them both.”

Louie presented the brother and sister team with a length of braided sweetgrass. It is smoked in ceremonies intended to cleanse the mind, hear and soul, “as a remembrance of this day.”

The acquisition of Morris Flowers, along with the purchase of Ainsworth Hot Springs, a logging company and an investment in St. Eugene Resort, “is about our children,” Louie said.

“We’ve been in a state of transition in our community for quite some time,” he said, going on to describe an information meeting for LKB members on Wednesday.

“It was one of the largest turnouts of people we have had in a long time—approximately 50 people. After the meeting, we shared a meal and people were visiting and talking with each other—we were all just being a community, a change for the better.”

“We (Pat and I) thought this sale would happen and we would drift into obscurity,” Lloyd laughed, looking around the people-filled room.

Later in the meeting, Louie announced that Jen Comer, of Creston Valley Farmers’ Market and Creston Town Council fame, had been hired to manage the business and that all current employees had been asked to remain in their positions.

“They are the experts,” he said.

In recent years, Morris Flowers has been growing produce on the Erickson Road property and selling it at both retail locations. Comer will be tasked with building that part of the business while maintaining its other aspects.

“For the first time we are entering the business world of the Creston Valley,” he said. “We are excited to be the new kids on the block and we have good mentors in Lloyd and Pat to help in the transition.”