The Saratoga Sun -

Store blooming after 30 years

 

Doug Radunich

Connie McGuire prepares to cut flowers for fresh-cut bouquets Monday at The Flower Pot in Saratoga. Her store is celebrating 30 years of business in town this month.

After three decades of business in the Valley, The Flower Pot florist in Saratoga is still going strong.

Owner/designer Connie McGuire said it is hard to believe it has been 30 years since she opened her flower shop on April 20, 1984. The shop, currently the only one in the Platte Valley, was first located at 122 E. Bridge Ave, before it moved to its current corner spot at 102 E. Bridge Ave.

The store originally offered fresh, silk and dried flowers, floor and table plants, terrariums, corsages, boutonnières and arrangements for all occasions including funerals, weddings and hospital stays, and continues to do so today.

A Flint, Mich. native, McGuire began studying flower arranging in 1968, and took fresh flower designing classes in 1972. Both classes were taken at the Mott Junior College Floral School of Design in Flint, Mich.

In 1980, McGuire moved to Saratoga with her family, and went to work at "Forget-Me-Not", which was then the only florist in town. Four years later, Pittenger was able to open up her own place.

"I was right next door to the Rustic Bar, which is the PMPC building now, and I was there for eight-and-a-half years before I moved down here," McGuire said. "I was leasing and I had a chance to buy this space, and it was an empty building for three years before I bought it. Years ago, I never dreamt I'd have my own shop. I never even thought of that."

After moving into her bigger space, McGuire said she had the opportunity to expand and gain a larger customer flow.

"Being down the street and right next to a bar, I was not getting any tourists at all," she said. "I had a few gifts and carried some plants and what have you, and when I moved here and had all this room to expand. I just kept buying and buying, and being on the corner, I was more visible. I just can't believe the walk-ins that we get, and people want to know what's here."

Currently, McGuire said her biggest sales occasions are birthdays and anniversaries. In addition to flowers, she also sells many balloons and plants. She said part of the key to her success is enjoying what she does everyday.

"Number one is you've got to like what you're doing in your job, and number two, you've got to like people and working around people of all kinds," McGuire said. "As far as the area is here, the people are absolutely wonderful to work with. Working in a big city back in Michigan as opposed to here is totally different, and it's like you're having a holiday almost everyday. The work is a lot busier there."

McGuire also added patience and diversifying as key necessities for operating a long-running, successful business.

"Plenty of patience has helped, and I have tried to get more diversified and add more on the retail end," she said. "We're such a small town and we don't carry everything, and I'm looking for what we don't have or what's affordable for our townspeople. I know what sells, and you learn over the years about pricing, buying and what's moving. It has been fun and I've met a lot of people."

McGuire said she has seen many changes with how flowers and designs for weddings and funerals are handled. She said modern technology and computers have also played a big part.

"Instead of having to make things so much by hand, now they have things coming in already made for you," she said. "They have made things more modernized."

McGuire said she has been grateful for all the help received over the years.

"I've had a lot of wonderful people who have worked for me, and some of them are still around while some have moved away," she said. "I couldn't handle it by myself can always need help. People don’t have a clue of what really goes on in the flower shop, and there’s so much to learn.”

Although the shop may be less busy when compared to big cities, McGuire said there is more to learn while operating a shop in a smaller town.

“Usually it takes a year to make it as a floral designer in the big city, but when you work out in rural place like Saratoga, I’d say it takes a good three years or more to learn everything because we’re so small,” she said. “There’s so much to learn on the wedding end and funeral end, and you have a chance to train your people. It’s overwhelming and there’s so much to learn. It takes time to do set pieces for funerals, and weddings are the same way, with the corsages, boutonnières and different styles to keep up with.”

McGuire said her easily viewed corner location has been good for tourists, and serves as a way for locals to not have to leave town for florist items.

“We need this place here for the tourism and the people in town, just so they can run down to the store and get something if they don’t have it,” she said. “People need to be able to stay in town and shop in town. We like to support people here in town and keep everyone afloat, but on the tourist end, we do still have a lot of tourism that comes in here.”

After being in business locally for 30 years, McGuire said it has been fun to watch kids in the community grow up.

“What’s great is watching a lot of the kids grow up, and seeing parents bringing in new babies,” she said. “You get to see babies and kids who are small, and before you know it, they’re ordering prom corsages, graduating from high school and even ordering wedding flowers. It kind of goes full circle, and I still get a lot of hugs today.”

An After Hours Chamber Social celebrating The Flower Pot’s 30th anniversary takes place from 4-7 p.m. tomorrow, at the 102 E. Bridge Ave. McGuire is also hosting an open house from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Both events are open to the public.

 

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