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Flowers  for Dreams, which held its grand opening Wednesday in Evanston at 2000 Greenleaf St., is not your traditional flower shop.

Tucked behind the offices of Nature’s Perspective in the up-and-coming West End business district, there is virtually no walk-in traffic and no flower-laden display windows to attract customers.

Instead, the shop employs a unique marketing strategy: It gives away a backpack, filled with school supplies, to a needy student every time a customer buys a $27 (or greater) bouquet.

And if the sale is for less than $27, the company utilizes 10 percent of the price to purchase school supplies to give away

The business model relies upon low overhead…no urban storefront, no retail staffing costs, no window dressing…and no spoilage because of its made-to-order sales strategy.

Owner Steven Dyme helps Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl prepare to cut the ribbon at the shop’s grand opening while second-ward alderman Peter Braithwaite looks on.

Steven Dyme, the CEO and founder, came up with the idea when he was on summer break from college and witnessed a commencement ceremony.

He convinced a friend in the floral industry to send him 300 dozen rose bouquets to his parent’s garage in Chicago which he sold as congratulatory gifts outside his former high school’s graduation. And he promised his customers that for each bouquet he sold, he would donate a backpack, complete with school supplies, for one of the first graders he had worked with the prior summer.

He tested the concept in Boston before opening his shop in Evanston earlier this year. To date, he’s given away more than 2,200 backpacks.

Prospective customers are invited to visit the company’s website to view the floral arrangements that are available and to order flowers for delivery in the Chicago area.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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