Photo contributed by Megan Cooley / Megan Cooley sells bouquets of flowers at a pop-up in nearby Ooltewah, Tennessee.

In high school, Megan Cooley went on a mission trip to Romania. When the bus stopped for gas, nearly everybody ran into the gas station's bathroom to brush their teeth after their long flight. Cooley, however, ran into the adjacent field of sunflowers.

On Jan. 25, the now-29-year-old will open Meg's Flower Market on Nashville Street in downtown Ringgold.

Before taking up floristry full time, Cooley was an elementary school teacher, but her husband's job kept the couple moving. When they found themselves in Ringgold in 2017, Cooley discovered the perfect place to put down roots.

"I've never really lived in a small town being from St. Louis," she said. "I saw this community, how they do events and bring people together, and thought this was such a great community. It made me feel like I want to invest in the community that I'm actually living in."

Through word-of-mouth and social media, Cooley has grown her business from her garage, fulfilling orders for weddings and baby showers alike.

"I've always been artistic," she said. "I love to paint and put together different colors, so that part comes pretty naturally when I'm putting together arrangements."

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Contributed photo by Megan Cooley / A sample bouquet of flowers arranged by Megan Cooley is shown. Her new shop, Meg's Flower Market, will have a wall of flowers for customers come in and create their own arrangement.

When the space between Trestle Side Antiques and It's Sew Time became available, she began thinking of ways to set her flower shop apart. Meg's Flower Market will have daily arrangements available for customers to pick out, but also a wall of flowers where they can create their own arrangement.

"I really want it to be an environment where [customers] feel comfortable playing around with the flowers," said Cooley. "We'll have a wall of flowers that you can just come and pick two stems, three stems or create your own bouquet out of it."

Her new flower shop will also allow her to pursue another hobby of hers, breathing new life into antique furniture. At the store, Cooley will be selling both refurbished and unrefurbished pieces, as well as jewelry.

Falling back on her teacher roots, she plans to host workshops and classes, as well.

"Get your group of girlfriends together and come either do Christmas wreaths or pumpkins in the fall, or centerpieces or a flower crowns, whatever it may be," Cooley said. "I want to be able to teach others and have something for everybody to do as a night together."

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