When you travel along Novi Road, you might have noticed that tucked away in the corner of a small strip mall is Donna & Larry’s Flowers.
“We started this business 27 years ago,” said Larry Podpora, who owns the shop with his wife, Donna. “We both work hand in hand, but she’s more of the business part, and I’m more of the design part."
Larry Podpora’s mother loved flowers. He found the creativity and beauty of them magical, which planted a seed in him at an early age. He and his wife love nature, and keeping this part of it with them year-round is something they cherish.
“We’re nature lovers, Podpora said. "I like the idea of being outdoors landscaping. I love all that kind of creativity.
“We love the joy of seeing people’s faces when they see flowers," he said. "You can have a bad day, but a flower – it just brightens your day and gives you a little spark sometimes. Flowers have a way of bringing peace and beauty in your life, and it's all part of it.”
Giving that spark and helping customers express themselves through flowers is a tremendous joy the couple share.
Claudia Hammond, a Northville resident, has been a longtime customer of the Podporas. She appreciates the warm feeling she gets when she walks into the shop.
“We’ve been coming to Donna and Larry’s Flowers probably since they’ve opened,” Hammond said. “We’ve had kids with proms, funeral arrangements for people in the neighborhood or relatives that have passed away. My son would purchase flowers for his girlfriend.
"Donna and Larry are like friends to us," she said. "That’s the atmosphere that you get here. You feel like you’re a part of the family. It’s a community kind of feel, and that’s important.”
Customers share some of the best of times of their lives with the Podporas — and some unfortunate times as well. It makes each experience more personal for the Podporas.
“The thing that really means the most for us, we’ve seen in 27 years — kids that have worked for us. They’ve moved on, got married and have kids of their own,” Danny said. “In this business, we are part of the different events in people’s life. Some happy, some sad. We try to give comfort in the tough times, celebrate the good times, and you realize it’s such a really an honor and privilege to be woven into this community and be part of it. Customers are like our friends. That line gets blurred, and that’s what’s so special about it.”
When you’ve been doing something for so long, it’s hard to envision a life without it. Retirement is something the Podporas joke about doing sometime in their 90s, and while they don’t have plans to quit any time soon, they understand that the time will come. Until then, they’ll continue to service a community that has given them so much over the years.
“It’s been a nice 27 years we’ve been going, and hopefully, there will be many more,” Larry Podpora said. “For us, as time goes by, you realize so much time has passed, but to see the changes and how we have become a part of this community, it’s a blessing.”