Nancy Tripodi found her bliss in 1982 when she and her husband, Leo, bought what had been Palmeri’s Flowers and set about building the business which has served Bedford for four decades. She took the advice of her father-in-law who counseled her to “name the business after the town” and The Bedford Florist was born. A selection of gifts and cards was added in 1987 and includes things like candles, seasonal ideas, and home decorating items.
Sharing a love of flowers and gardening with her mother, Virginia, Nancy began making wedding bouquets and arrangements for family and friends when she was still a teenager. Requests grew as word of her skill spread and led Tripodi to enroll at Rittner’s Floral Design School in Boston.
Initially, she worked for the owners of what was still called Palmeri’s Flowers, although the Palmeri family was no longer involved. When that owner decided to sell the business in 1982, Tripodi and her husband purchased it.
The shop, still in the same location, was then one of only a few businesses in what is now the Bedford Plaza Shopping Center. Her competitors elsewhere in town at the time were Mix Flowers and Arts and Flowers; The Bedford Florist outlasted both of them.
“I just kept showing up,” a modest Tripodi says of her success. “To me at the time – and still – having this business is a dream come true.”
Twenty-five to 50 boxes of fresh flowers arrive every day, all of which have to be checked and put into fresh water as they are prepared for use in centerpieces, bouquets, and funeral arrangements.
Dozens of white roses and daisies arrive every Monday, a standing order, as they are among the most popular choices by customers, and admittedly, favorites of Tripodi’s, as well.
In addition, she is online every day ordering flowers as needed for special requests. The Bedford Florist now also services corporate clients seeking arrangements for lobbies, conference rooms, and holiday gifts for customers.
The week before Christmas is an especially busy time that can include preparing as many as 40 special orders a day in addition to regular business.
Tripodi today has a staff of five people, most of whom have been with her for years.
“We’re a team,” she said, acknowledging their hard work and dedication.
Flower-giving is a particular expression of feelings both joyous and sad, and the circumstances of each order are often very personal. Tripodi does all the design work and puts time and effort into keeping the finished pieces reflective of the occasion, the giver, and the recipient. When possible, she reads the obituary of the person for whom a funeral arrangement is being ordered to try and get a sense of who that person was and represent that in the design if she can.
And then along came Covid.
The shop was closed for a short time until it became clear that business could be conducted without customers necessarily coming in. For weeks after the first wave of business closures in the state, Tripodi arrived in the morning to find notes, gifts, candles, and baked goods left at the front door by customers who were grateful she was managing to stay open.
“Our business was even more robust than usual. People couldn’t be together but they could reach out by sending flowers and we were able to make deliveries and maintain social distance.”
Her advice to aspiring retailers? “You need to do it with 100 percent of your heart and soul. I love to come to work…I literally cannot wait to get here in the morning.”
Before her husband Leo’s death in 2013, the two worked closely together every day. Perhaps that connection deepened the personal commitment Tripodi brings both to the work and to her customers. With a nod to her partner and husband, Tripodi added, “I feel Leo on my shoulder every day.”
The Bedford Florist is a member of the Bedford Chamber of Commerce.
“Bedford is very supportive of business and this community is the best place for me to be,” Tripodi said.