A longtime McLean flower shop has completed laying more than 250,000 pennies on its floor as part of a larger renovation.
Store owners Chip and Sonya Frederick incorporated the penny project into a larger renovation of the store at 1378 Chain Bridge Road. They had the idea when Sonya saw a story about a similar project online.
"We both are inspired by repurposing things, recycling old vases," she said. "So when we were talking about floors, we looked at regular commercial tiles… and they were regular commercial tiles."
Sonya added: "I love pennies. I think they're gorgeous. Pennies don't have any respect any more — and they're the best-looking coin out there!"
The Guinness record keepers have conditionally accepted the Flowers & Plants project, though paperwork and verification still need to be done, Chip said. It's possible the project won't win the recognition, but the Fredericks have high hopes.
The family, friends and employees spent more than two months arranging groups of between 100 and 200 pennies, all heads up, into 4-by-18-inch tiles with contact paper. They asked that Patch not disclose the exact number of pennies per tile due to an upcoming guessing contest.
A proficient tile maker could do the task in about three minutes, Sonya said.
But something funny happened along the way to the 1,976 tiles it took to cover the floor: Customers and community members wanted to contribute. (Coincidentally, 1976 is the year Chip's family founded Flowers & Plants, Etc.)
People wanted a spot of the store's Lincoln-headed floor of their own, or maybe one for their family or a deceased loved one.
And so one tile is composed entirely of 1969 pennies in memory of a community member who died a few years ago. He was the proud owner of a 1969 GTO.
Other tiles are made of pennies using the birth or death years of loved ones. Some are simple patterns, others are arranged into initials. The store's logo is written in pennies in front of the register, and an impressively large arrangement of a sunflower — it covered the Fredericks' dining room table for about three weeks — is toward the back of the store's showroom.
"A lot of people brought in 50 or 100 pennies just because they wanted to be a part of the floor," Chip said. "It really is a community floor."
The store has a map of all the special tiles, plus a few unique pennies that have been scattered about, Sonya said. Chip said the community contributions helped reinforce Flowers & Plants, Etc. as a McLean tradition — teens who once bought corsages and boutonnieres there for their prom now have children buying those items themselves.
He said he hopes the floor becomes an attraction that draws people into Flowers & Plants, Etc.
The floor project required so many pennies that they had to be ordered from Chain Bridge Bank.
"We had more pennies on hand at any given time than all of the banks in McLean combined," Chip said. "… I'm glad I can say I did a penny floor — because I'll never be able to say I did two."