Floral Farewell
Design Originals Floral to close after nearly 30 years

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

Feb. 25, 2019

Mark and Charlene Jung in the front lobby near the spring display at Design Originals Floral in Hartford. The husband and wife team will be retiring this year after 30 years in business.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — Charlene and Mark Jung plan to no longer smell the roses after they close the doors on their Design Originals Floral shop for good in mid- to late April after 30 years in business in their historic downtown location at 15 N. Main St.

“We opened the doors on March 1, 1989 so we will have been open for 30 years after next Friday,” Charlene said. The store is now undergoing a liquidation sale.

“We’ve had the building up for sale for about two years now,” Mark said. “We thought it would be easier to sell the building and let someone use it for something else. The shop will just go out of business. We’re getting more interest on a possible sale after we announced we are retiring.”

According to the archives in the History Room at the Jack Russell Memorial Library, the building’s history dates back to 1844. In the 1930s and for many years, the building was the home for a movie theater and it has housed other businesses as well.

In 1989 the Jungs signed a lease and opened Design Originals Floral. They then bought the building in 1992 and recently announced they’ll be retiring.

To mark the couple’s pending retirement, and their three decades in business, the theme for this weekend’s Iced On Main, an annual ice carving event, pays homage to the longtime downtown business with the theme “Design Originals.” This year at the recent Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner, the business was also presented with the Chamber’s Legacy Award.

When they opened the business, did the couple ever think they would be in business for almost 30 years?

“Yeah, I knew we would. Flowers are a passion for me. So it’s something I knew I wanted to do,” Charlene said. “We just thought it was time to have life move on to the next step. We have aging parents and other things that we want to do. We want to be able to enjoy life some yet because working six to seven days a week, 10 hours a day for 30 years — it’s just going to be nice to just be able to breathe for a little while and kick back.”

Mark plans to continue to work at his other job, at Weldfab.

A banner hanging over the door thanking customers for 30 years of business is seen Friday afternoon at Design Originals Floral in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Charlene said she plans on doing nothing for the summer, then come fall she is sure she will find something to do. “I’m the kind of person that’s got to be doing something so by then I will be ready to find something fun,” Charlene said. “I’ve had two jobs my entire life so I think there’s a lot out there that I still want to go out and explore and see what entices me.”

The couple had to repair and remodel their building when a fire heavily damaged the building next door where a nail salon is now located.

 “We stayed open for business after suffering smoke and soot damage,” Charlene said. “We remained open during the seven months of repair and remodeling. The construction company kept us in business as they moved us to different parts of the building. As some areas were completed we moved to others.”

The couple said one of the things they are going to miss the most after their business closes for the final time, is the many, many loyal customers they’ve had.

“They initially were shocked when they heard we were closing, but then when they stepped back and looked at it they saw us every time they came to shop — they came to understand how much time and effort it took to run this business,” Mark said. “We have no children so there is no legacy to pass on, so they understand why.”

Charlene said customers are “sad to see us go, but they are also happy for us to be able to retire.”

“We’re going to miss our customers. So many of them are our friends,” she said. “We’ve waited on people and then we waited on their children and then we waited on their children’s children. Many of them are very special.”

To mark the end of an era for Hartford’s downtown and for Charlene and Mark Jung, on Wednesday instead of having its monthly event “Fun After Five,” the Chamber will host a “Farewell After Five” and a retirement party for the Jungs that’s to include a ribbon tying ceremony instead of a ribbon cutting. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the shop.