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My Biz: Marion floral shop growing like a weed

By R’becca Groff, correspondent | The Gazette | June 9, 2016

Alison Irvin’s store seeing boom in customers at new location

MARION — Alison Irvin moved her floral shop, Ali’s Weeds, into the historic McGowan House less than six weeks ago — and walk-in business has already doubled.

“When the original owners told me a few years ago that they were thinking of retiring, it took me by surprise when they asked if I wanted to buy their business,” she said.

Irvin, who had worked as their business manager, said after discussing the matter with her husband, it didn’t take long for her to say yes.

“He said, ‘I think you should do it,’ and here we are,” she said, smiling.

Irvin said it took her a while to find the right building, and when she received the go-ahead to lease the McGowan House from the city of Marion, it was full steam ahead.

“I wanted a better location, a more Zen-like location with our own cutting garden where we could grow some of our product,” she said. “And I was also very interested in involving the whole community, and that’s why we have tried to make the outside area of the property as welcoming as the inside of the shop.”

Irvin said she encourages people to bring their coffee and pastries into the garden and sit under the umbrellas, enjoy the birds, or read a book.

For Irvin it’s all about being in touch with nature, inside and out.

“We don’t use any chemicals,” she said. “Everything is natural, and I’m a firm believer in repurposing — or upcycling as some people call it now — and giving back to the environment.”

In addition to artistic floral arrangements for weddings, funerals and other occasions, the store carries a wide line of gift items such a Mona B handbags that are made from military tents and canvas, homemade greeting cards, jewelry by local artists, organic soaps, body lotions and butters, one-of-a kind vintage antiques and collectibles, as well as custom silk floral and wreath designs.

The second story of the house is a dedicated massage and yoga studio.

“There is nothing like it here in town,” Irvin said. “That was another thing that appealed to me.”

Irvin, a Texas native, said that one of the things she had to relearn early on after moving to Iowa was how to garden in Zone 4.

“Some of the things that we have here as houseplants are year-round plants in Texas that grow outside, so that was an interesting learning process for me.”

The garden area at Ali’s Weeds can double as a venue for baby and bridal showers, small weddings and receptions or retirement parties.

“We must be doing something right,” Irvin said, “the outpouring of support from this community has been amazing.

“Women come in and tell us they just love being here,” she added. “It makes them feel good when they leave.”

At a glance

Owner: Alison Irvin

Company: Ali’s Weeds

Address: 524 10th St., Marion

Contact: (319) 377-9312;

Know a company in business for more than a year that would make an ideal My Biz? Contact Francie Williamson at


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