Scents lure customers into emporium

May 10, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Loriann Pfefferkorn doesn't give roses a chance to blossom and die. She kills the fresh buds immediately.

There is a method to her seeming madness. By drying the budding flowers, she preserves them long past the last rose of summer.

Bunches of every color of rosebud hang from racks in her shop, the newest business to open in Sykesville.

"They will keep their color and dry in two weeks," Ms. Pfefferkorn said of her roses. She promised that the sweet smell would linger for months.

Meadow Sweet Emporium, aptly named for its owner's favorite herb, is replete with fresh scents.

At the front entrance to the Main Street shop, a cart full of freshly picked herbs lures shoppers inside, to where scents of drying roses, pungent herbs and pomander balls combine pleasantly with newly polished antiques.

A few fixtures remain from the former hardware store that once stood at the location across from the old firehouse. Ms. Pfefferkorn has replaced the nuts and bolts in a counter of cubbyholes with lavender, oregano, basil and other herbs and flowers.

The store, Ms. Pfefferkorn's first business venture, also features beeswax candles and Pfefferkorn Coffee, which has been sold wholesale by her husband's family for years.

"My husband wanted me to sell everything from our farm in Howard County," she said. "I wanted the storefront."

She said she saw a "for rent" sign in the Sykesville shop and, "on the spur of the moment," decided the location would be ideal for her business.

"Sykesville is charming and close by, and they needed something like what I do here," she said. "I didn't want to be crowded and lost in Ellicott City."

To help create a friendly ambience, her pet parrot, Leviathon, whistles and shrieks "hello" to visitors from his window perch.

"Leviathon is a good ice-breaker," said Ms. Pfefferkorn, who formerly lived in a one-time whaling town in New York.

Of all the aspects of her new business, which includes antiques, the flowers interest her most. In a workshop behind the shop, Ms. Pfefferkorn, 32, arranges them into centerpieces, wreaths and bridal bouquets.

"A lot of people want wildflower weddings," she said. She has several fall weddings already booked.

Ms. Pfefferkorn studied retail floristry at Dundalk Community College and worked for a Howard County florist to get experience in the trade. At her own shop, she is a "special-occasion florist," and her floral gifts are popular presents.

"I did great with fresh flowers for Easter and decided to repeat them for Mother's Day," she said.

Herbs tied into the business naturally, said the woman who calls herself a "naturalist."

In an "herbery" on a 49-acre farm near the Howard County fairgrounds in West Friendship, she cultivates the plants she needs for the shop.

The herb garden is larger than the 30-by-65-foot shop and produces large bunches of cooking herbs, which she sells for $3.

"They will stay tasty forever," Ms. Pfefferkorn said. "Crumble them and throw them in your spaghetti sauce."

The herbs also keep their scents for years, she said.

"You can crush sweet annie in your hand and get the smell years after it has been dried," she said of the familiar herb used as an air freshener.

With no more room at home for antiques, she decided to add them to the emporium's stock.

The few pieces for which she feels an attachment "can sit here for good," she said with a laugh.

After two months in business, she has already expanded once and has decided that her mixture of merchandise is working.

"I couldn't do well on any one thing, but the combination of antiques with dried and fresh flowers and herbs is working well," she said.

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