By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
After working two jobs for years off the Island, Andi LaMar has opened her own business in her hometown.
LaMar held the ceremonial opening and ribbon-cutting Tuesday to her new business, Silk Florals, on Baseline Road. LaMar designs silk and artificial arrangements that will last a few seasons.
She can take an old arrangement and make it new again, and she specializes in serving custom orders with designs that are uniquely her own, both contemporary or traditional. "People don't have to leave the Island for a gift or a cemetery rack," LaMar said.
The business is located at 1733 Baseline Road, south of the I-190 overpass.
An Islander for 19 years, LaMar called her business "a big step in faith." She's worked in her field with two jobs off the Island for years, but now has a business that follows her passion.
"I love it. I live for it. Coming in here every day is not like a job at all. It is a joy. I can't wait to come to work," LaMar said.
"Lord willing, I'm going to be here 20 years," LaMar said.
Calvin VanderMey, LaMar's pastor at Bible Fellowship Center, attended the ribbon-cutting to support and encourage the member of his congregation. VanderMey said the ribbon-cutting was a proud moment for him to see "success mixed with happiness."
He said, "It's thrilling to see one's dreams coming true, and to have the freedom to take a God-given gift and use it for the betterment of not only the community, but individual homes to bring joy."
The business is in the midst of one of its busiest seasons, but LaMar aims to be open all year round to service weddings, baby showers and corporate events with wreaths, centerpieces, corsages, bridal bouquets and cemetery racks.
Eric Fiebelkorn, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, was at the ribbon-cutting to welcome LaMar to the Island's business community. He said the ribbon-cutting reminded him of a time when his kids were smaller and he tried to buy a wreath, knick-knacks and glue to make a gift.
"And all we ended up with was our twins with their hands glued together and a mess," Fiebelkorn recalled. "This is somebody who has a talent - a gift, I believe - and has turned that into a business, something that the community can use."
"To get something nice and custom at Christmas is rare nowadays," he said, mentioning that so many things bought today are made prefabrication overseas and imported.
"This is somebody's blood, sweat and tears and creativity," he said of LaMar's products. "It's a nice, custom gift. Somebody else won't get this from anywhere else. That's a rarity in today's world, and this is why we need to support small business when we have things like this."
"It's nice to get something special," he added.
Lamar's business is an addition to an Island corridor that is home to small- to medium-sized offices and industries.
"It's nice that this space is available. For Islanders, coming down Baseline or Grand Island Boulevard, it makes no difference," Fiebelkorn said. "This is another street we turn down."
The Silk Florals opening illustrated that not all the Island business is in the town center.
"Town center's nice. We'll develop that, but we'll always have these business districts," Fiebelkorn said. "I think there's three or four main streets on Grand Island, it seems."
The business is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.