It’s time to stop and just smell the roses

Stewart Duncan at Olive's the florist.
Stewart Duncan at Olive's the florist.

Stewart Duncan closed the doors of Carnoustie institution “Olive’s Flower Shop” at lunchtime on Tuesday (February 28).

Stewart is retiring after 38 years in the trade, but the shop will retain the name “Olive’s Flower Shop” under the new ownership of Lynda Wallace and Jacqui Gray and re-open for business on tomorrow (Saturday).

Speaking just after closing up for the final time, Stewart said: “Obviously, I have very mixed feelings - but I am happy to be retiring.”

Stewart also had a message for the people of Carnoustie, saying: “I’d like to thank everyone very much indeed. Over the years our customers have been very loyal and given us a living.”

Stewart and his late wife Olive, known affectionately as “Olive the flower lady”, took over a fruit and vegetable store in Dundee Street in August 1979, where they sold flowers on the side.

Gradually, the florist side of the business took over and they phased out everything else. Later, they moved to 49 High Street and then across the road to the current premises, at 84 High Street, nine years ago.

Stewart said it was a “steady trade: ‘‘People always need flowers for presentations, funerals, special occasions and weddings. Being a florist is very rewarding - seeing the reaction on the recipients’ faces, like brides, and giving people pleasure.”

Asked if Carnoustie folk had any particular floral favourites, Stewart thought for a moment before replying: “They like mixed types of flowers. Although they’re very popular at Valentine’s Day, roses don’t last as long as others and, if I had to name one type, I’d probably say lilies.”

After fulfilling his immediate plans on Tuesday night to “go out with the family” and “have a wee dram”, Stewart will be flying off to Australia next month, to see his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. When he returns, he plans to lower his handicap on the golf course and get involved with horse riding - he was a show jumper in his youth and competed in many competitions before training as a butcher, working at D.C. Thomson’s and then going into the shop full-time with Olive.

On the OurCarnoustie Facebook page, among many tributes, Paddy Petrie said: “Stewart, you and Olive gave so much joy and pleasure to so many people over the years and you richly deserve your retirement.”

The shop’s new owners are both local Carnoustie women, Jacqui Gray and Lynda Wallace, and Stewart said: “I’m wishing the new owners well - they promised me they’d keep up Olive’s high standards!”