What can anyone do with an institution, except try to make it better.
"This has been an operating florist for 74 years," he said of the site, which originally began as Lapolla and Walsh and went through three incarnations under different owners. "I think they were the first florists in New Canaan and it's been a continual floral operation ever since. I'm the fourth owner in 74 years."
But Pippitt intends to do more than merely keep a good thing going. He's not only bringing his love and expertise to play in this earthbound business, but presenting more offerings than have traditional been available at this location.
Pippitt was raised on a farm in Michigan. "I was bailing hay and plowing fields when I was 11."
Pippitt's family moved around, and he eventually found himself in town, later graduating from New Canaan High School.
"I came back here in 2002," he said, having operated a nursery in Florida for a time. "I've been looking for a business in New Canaan to get into for the past three years, and when this became available, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do -- get back to my roots, no pun intended."
Pippitt did a sizable cleanup of the place before reopening last week, including painting, adding air conditioning to the building, and remodeling the coolers and some of the equipment.
He also expanded the offerings, beginning by making a large selection of cut flowers available. "I have people come in all day long to just buy fresh flowers by the stem," he said.
"We're focusing much more deeply on the floral side," he said, including handling arrangements for special events. "We've already booked a couple of weddings and we've done some baby showers and off-site events, for corporate and charity."
"We're really three in one," he said: A floral shop, a garden center and a gift shop.
Pippitt has stocked a range of gift items, including candles and holders, hanging crystal vases, jewelry, artwork and bird books.
The shop is featuring the painting of New Canaan artist Emily Kelting, as well as some turned wooden bowls by a Gloucester, Mass., artist named -- aptly enough -- Bill Wood.
"I like that they have a little bit of everything," said Kara Gilliam of New Canaan, who frequents the shop. "And I like their style, I guess you'd say."
Pippitt added: "Of course, we'll do all the seasonal stuff -- Christmas trees and pumpkins, depending on what season is upon us."
As his children have grown and he finds himself with a lot more extra time on his hands, Pippitt said he's looking forward to digging his roots deep into this venture.
New Canaan Florist, Garden & Gifts, 197 New Norwalk Road, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information, visit newcanaanflora.com or call 203-966-4163.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.