By Dinah Satterwhite
Zack and Eli’s Dahlias, located where Wyatt Way turns into Eagle Harbor Drive, is hard to miss. Its eponymous founders were young boys when they established this self-service seasonal flower stand, which can be accessed by parking on a gravel turnout and crossing a small footbridge over a tiny ravine.
Back in 1999, Zack (then 7) and Eli (then 4) wished the family could take more vacations. When they were told vacations cost money, they wondered if they could sell some of the beautiful dahlias that grew so abundantly in the rich soil surrounding their home. The rest of the family was “all in” and the flower business took off.
So did the family—the proceeds eventually had them winging their way to vacation destinations like Hawaii and Disneyland.
Customers pay using the honor system, sometimes leaving IOUs for their bouquets. Only once has the flower stand been “cleaned out.” They receive generous tips and sometimes interesting items in trade, such as gift cards for local bakeries, coffee tokens and even foreign coins from around the globe.
These days, 20-year-old Eli is a sophomore at the University of Washington, while Zach is 24 and teaching at a New York City charter school. Parents Dan and Paige continue to harvest and sell flowers from the dahlia fields, which have flourished and expanded since the early days. They may expand into tulips next year. They refer to the operation as a “labor of loving madness.”