“O’Rourke & Birch has been a one-family-owned business for the past 100 years and has been known as a ‘Waterbury Institution’ for most of those years,” stated Virginia Cookson O’Rourke, owner of O’Rourke & Birch Florists, president of O’Rourke & Birch, Inc., and a licensed Justice of the Peace.
Due to the City of Waterbury’s widely publicized current urban renewal project on Freight Street, O’Rourke & Birch recently needed to relocate due to the project’s demolition of the building where the floral company was previously housed.
“Gratefully,” O’Rourke Cookson stated, “we have moved into the very lovely space formerly occupied by the Orchid Florist at 1 Chase Avenue, plus keep on several of that shop’s highly skilled staff members.” In business for an incredible 96 years, the Orchid Florist closed in 2022 due to the untimely passing of the shop’s longtime owner, John Varanelli.
“Merging the renown of two greatly respected Waterbury floral shops and the expertise of the two floral design specialist teams has created an exceptional opportunity for all of us, and for the customers of both shops,” commented O’Rourke Cookson. “It’s very gratifying to merge the admirably experienced talents of several of the Orchid’s floral designers with the notable talents of the O’Rourke & Birch designers, including Karen Fraser, who has been with the company for 40 years.”
O’Rourke & Birch Florists was originally founded in 1922 as a small shop in North Square at 417 North Main Street by O’Rourke Cookson’s father, John O’Rourke, and her aunt, Marie O’Rourke Birch when Marie was a teenager. O’Rourke Cookson purchased the business from them.
Like her aunt, O’Rourke Cookson “grew up in this business” and began her floral career after graduating from college and then a floral design school. From her family, she inherited a very strong sense of community and charity, and today she is highly respected and widely recognized throughout the greater Waterbury area as a notably successful contributor to many local and national organizations.
In 2013, O’Rourke & Birch Florists, Inc. received the nationally prestigious recognition as an elite, top-quality FTD Master Florist, making it one of only eight florists in Connecticut to receive this unique distinction. Also in 2013, Virginia O’Rourke Cookson received the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s highly prestigious Volunteer of the Year Award.
O’Rourke Cookson is a member of the National Society of American Florists, FTD-Florist Transworld Delivery, and Teleflora Inc. She is a long-standing member of the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, a previous Chamber Ambassador, and a long-time member of the board of directors of the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Business Women’s Forum (BWF). She is also the recipient of numerous community and leadership awards including the 2000 Waterbury Regional Chamber Businesswoman of the Year Award.
Ginny O’Rourke Cookson is also a past president and member of The Waterbury Exchange Club, and the business networking group in Waterbury, ProfNet, Inc.