Thistle & Posy opened at its 204 Gooding Ave. location in August. The bright and airy space was renovated top-to-bottom by owner, Chelsey Barton-Karnes, and her husband, Dwayne.
The Gooding Avenue neighborhood was once the home of not one but several florists, with more scattered around town. But in recent years and for a variety of reasons, most of those businesses have closed up shop. Now, Thistle & Posy has opened its doors on the centrally-located thoroughfare, and to many, the talented floral designer at the helm is a friendly, familiar face.
“This was my side gig,” said Chelsey Barton-Karnes. “But I got so busy that I couldn't keep both up.” Until recently, her day job was as Confidential Secretary to the Director of Public Works. “I really like the people there, I was sorry to say goodbye,” she said.
But the fact is, Barton-Karnes was meant to be a floral designer. She’s a natural — and much of what she did learn, she learned locally.
“When I was about 13 or 14, I started working at Linden Gate flowers,” she said. Linden Gate was formerly at the corner of Bradford and Hope Streets. “I started out there doing greening. I never worked with flowers, I just added the greens.” In high school she worked for a company called Very Special Flowers, an events design company, also greening. “I knew how to green so…she had me greening,” said Barton-Karnes, with a smile. “And then she said, you have a talent. Let's try to move forward with this.”
“When I was about 16, when I first got my car, I went to floral design school in Norton,” she said. “I would go two days a week after school.”
She worked as a freelance floral designer for 20 years after that, while holding down jobs in the corporate office of Bread and Circus (which became Whole Foods before being purchased by Amazon.)
Through the years, Barton-Karnes always had a hand in floral design, whether doing the flowers for a friend’s wedding or working after hours and weekends with an events design company. “But it has always been in the back of my mind, to have a flower shop, so that's how I landed here,” she said.
Thistle & Posy opened at its 204 Gooding Ave. location in August. When you walk into the bright and airy space, renovated top-to-bottom by Chelsey and her husband Dwayne Karnes, you are greeted by a seasonal display and bright, creative grab-and-go bouquets. The space is anchored by an antique candy counter that Chelsey found on Facebook marketplace.
“We drove to Maine to get it and we brought it back on the back of a pickup truck,” she said. “We wrapped it in a bunch of moving blankets. I prayed the whole way back.”
Unique house plants, cards and a small collection of gifts, many locally sourced, are also available at Thistle & Posy, including cards and other paper products designed by her best friend from high school, who now lives in Palm Springs. She carries a wide selection of flowers that you can buy by the stem to create your own arrangements.
“I like to carry unique plants and flowers,” she said. “I get them locally when I can, but I also go to Boston twice a week.”
A Bristol native, Barton-Karnes lives in Rehoboth now, where she has a greenhouse and can grow a lot of her own product — primarily succulents and tropical plants. Locally, she has also established great relationships with growers, including at Four Town Farms, the Brilliant Dahlia Flower Farm and the Dahlia Shed.
Barton-Karnes is finding her business split pretty evenly between wedding and events clients and retail traffic. “I think it's a balance,” she said. “I probably have one large event a week, either a wedding or a party.” They do same day delivery locally, and next day further afield. She’s also offering classes about once a month.
To see what’s on offer, visit thistleandposy.com. Or just stop by — after all, that’s why she opened a retail space in the first place. “I absolutely love seeing all the people coming through,” she said. “I think that's the best part of this.”
“I’m so glad to be back in Bristol. It's just an amazing community that rallies around you. Everyone has been so supportive.”