Ordinarily, a story like this would not be on my radar screen, but this involves a business I patronized regularly and which provided quality products and services. The Berrett's Blossoms Flower Shop in Riverton, Utah has had a bad week. Just three days after being burglarized on Monday July 5th, 2010, a garage fire burned through two cars and caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage on Thursday July 8th. Media stories from the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KSL Channel 5 (video embedded below).
David Berrett was checking and double checking all the locks in lieu of recent thefts when his daughter called to say a friend passing by the 13173 S. Redwood Road flower shop, had seen flames spreading from the garage around 5:15 P.M. Firefighting crews from South Jordan, Riverton, and Bluffdale responded to the two-alarm fire and managed to keep the fire primarily to the garage but it had burnt edges of the adjacent house to the south and spread into the attic of the flower shop. Firefighting efforts were made more difficult by the fact that the fire ruptured the fuel tank of a van in the garage and the oil then fueled the fire, requiring fire crews to suppress the spreading flames with foam. In addition, suppression efforts in the attic were complicated by the fact that the building has multiple roof lines from being added onto a number of times. No one was reported injured.
Damage estimates vary. The Deseret News reports $75,000, KSL reports $120,000, and the most recent estimate from the Salt Lake Tribune is $110,000. So far, no one is hinting at a connection between the fire and the earlier burglary. Fire officials will investigate to determine the origin, but one commenter to the KSL story speculates that it was a lawnmower in the garage which originally caught fire.
For surrounding neighbors, the greater tragedy was watching it all happen to a "staple" in the community. For the past 50 years, Berrett and his family have been selling flowers to just about everyone. Teens from Riverton and Bingham high schools head to the local shop for corsages and anything else needed; everyone in the area knows Berrett's Blossoms. Even those not in the area know Berrett's Blossoms; after my mother told me they had the freshest flowers and the best arrangements, I ordered Mother's Day flowers for her exclusively through Berrett's Blossoms for the last five years of her life.
What impresses me about David Berrett is that he never sought to become part of a national chain and be a typical corporate whore. He was content to remain a respectable small businessman providing useful products and services to the local community. Berrett is a classic example of the typical salt-of-the-earth Utahn who makes the state a particularly good place for families.