January 10, 2021 —
Each October since 2015, staff and friends from Sunnywoods Florist in Chatham, New Jersey, surprise people on the street with gifts of flowers. “The reactions are extraordinary,” says Sunnywoods owner Rosa Marsal. “At first, people look surprised and think we’re expecting them to purchase the flowers. But once we explain our goal as an act of kindness, they often are overcome with emotion!”
The Sunnywoods team (left to right)
Rosa Marsal, Maria Alvarez, and Cindy Bermel,
are ready to Petal It Forward.
Petal It Forward
Sunnywoods is part of the yearly Society of American Florists Petal It Forward national initiative to share flowers with unsuspecting people. Each Petal It Forward recipient gets two small bouquets — one to keep for themselves and the other to share with someone else.
Petal It Forward was conceived to help promote
the positive health benefits of giving and receiving flowers.
Customizing Petal It Forward for its communities, Sunnywoods surprises people who are walking, coming out of the grocery store, driving a bus, or waiting at a stop light. Each year, Sunnywoods gives out thousands of flowers to boost moods throughout the Chatham community.
Anyone can receive a Petal It Forward flower or bouquet —
mail carriers, delivery people, teachers, parents,
crossing guards, bus drivers, store owners,
and people walking dogs.
Floral Acts of Kindness
When they realize Sunnywoods simply wants to spread happiness with its flowers, many people become very emotional and even cry. Rosa adds, “One woman hugged me with tears in her eyes after I gave her flowers. She told me she would love sharing the second bouquet with her daughter who had recently returned to school after recovering from surgery.”
On another occasion, Rosa gave flowers to a crossing guard who said she was awaiting biopsy results. When she realized the first bouquet was a gift for her, the woman burst into tears, hugged Rosa, and told her that the flowers gave her hope. “It was very moving. When I gave her the second bouquet, she walked across the street to share it with a fellow crossing guard.”
On Petal It Forward Day,
Sunnywoods hears many moving stories
from Chatham and area residents.
Petaling It Forward During the Pandemic
October 2020 was an especially important time for Petal It Forward. Many people, of course, had been feeling isolated, worried, and unhappy as a result of the coronavirus. Petal It Forward gave Sunnywoods a chance to connect with some of them and sympathize with their feelings.
In addition to lifting spirits, research shows
that acts of kindness like giving flowers
may help reduce stress and anxiety.
“When the Society of American Florists wanted volunteers for Petal It Forward, I signed up immediately,” says Rosa. “We were the only florist in North Jersey that volunteered in 2015. Now there are six florists across the state that participate in the program.”
Sunnywoods recognizes Chatham’s finest with Petal It Forward.
“My staff and I love Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day,
but Petal It Forward is our favorite day of the year.
Even my friends volunteer to help give out flowers that day!”
— Sunnywoods owner Rosa Marsal
Sunnywoods Florist has been serving Chatham and the surrounding area for more than 100 years. Founded in 1885, the Sunnywoods greenhouses were originally located in Chatham at Sunnywoods Lane and Fuller Circle. Sunnywoods’s original owners, the Moore family, cultivated roses and other flowers to supply New York City flower markets as well as florists across the nation.
Rosa prepared the floral arrangements for Sunnywoods’s original owner, Frank Moore’s, funeral. A remarkable man, Mr. Moore lived 100 years. In addition to cultivating a new rose named for his son, Jared, Mr. Moore wrote a column with valuable information for other rose growers.
Sunnywoods and Rosa Unite
Rosa is Sunnywoods’s fourth owner. The daughter of a florist, Rosa worked with her mom in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After that, she worked at a flower shop in Madison, New Jersey, before taking a position at Sunnywoods with the third Sunnywoods owner, Charles “Chuck” Roll. Deciding it was time to own her own florist, Rosa purchased Sunnywoods in 1991 when Mr. Roll retired.
Sunnywoods Florist owner Rosa Marsal
The combination of creativity and business
that comes with being a florist inspires Rosa.
“I’ve had the privilege of arranging flowers for many family events — weddings, baby showers, birthdays, communions, proms, anniversaries, and, of course, other significant gatherings such as funerals,” says Rosa. “Knowing my clients and their families over several generations has allowed me to bond with them.”
“Chatham is a loving, friendly community.
My roots are here.
I’ve been here more than thirty years and I love the area.
With any luck, I’ll be here the rest of my career!”
— Rosa Marsal
“As a customer of other businesses, I know how I want to be treated,” says Rosa. “I treat my clients with the same respect, reliability, and thoughtful approach I want for myself. From the beginning, my relationships with my customers has been paramount.
I was only 26 when I started my business. It was scary to have all that responsibility at such a young age; but I knew I would do well if I treated my customers well and built trusted long-term professional relationships with them. I am grateful for the privilege of knowing and serving my customers for many years.”
Rather than simply making a sale,
Rosa is focused on making a customer for life.
Rosa and I can attest that neither snow nor coronavirus
gets in the way of Valentine’s Day at Sunnywoods Florist!
A Florist That Can Meet Your Needs
Located at 251 Main Street in Chatham, Sunnywoods is a friendly, full-service florist. The shop offers in-shop, phone and online orders, curbside pickup, and no-contact deliveries. Rosa also offers pre- and after-hours visits for customers who want to shop alone.
Sunnywoods is among the extraordinary businesses
that enrich the Chatham community, making it a wonderful place to live.
At its heart and soul is Rosa Marsal’s ever-kind, good-natured perspective.
Whether you need flowers for Valentine’s Day or any other occasion, I encourage you to stop in and meet the creative Sunnywoods team. In addition to leaving with a gorgeous arrangement and cheery mood, you’ll make new friends!
Want to learn more about living in Chatham?
Call me today at 201-532-0788.
As a life-long resident, I’ll share what I know!
*Petal It Forward is possible thanks to the voluntary contributors of the Society of American Florists Public Relations Fund.