April showers bring May flowers, but flowers are something Donna Watson says she can deliver all year.
Watson owns Watson’s Florist located in Elkin at 713 N. Bridge Street. The company has been running there since 1976.
“My parents moved here from Connecticut,” said Watson. “I remember the move back then. Elkin has been home since then, a special place filled with lovely people.”
According to Watson, the florist business is tough and very risky, but she seeds her way through it.
“You have to predict what sales can be like five-to-seven days from now. That’s challenging. Try telling me how many funerals will take place in a week from now. It’s tough, right? If you buy too much quantity, the flowers don’t stay alive and you lose your money,” said Watson “But on the other hand if you buy too little and if you get jobs that come in, you don’t have enough supplies to fill an order.”
Watson points to “florist mills” used by consumers who call 800 numbers who she believes hurt local businesses.
“I wonder if most people know that all of the tax revenue leaves our county when people use florist mills?” asked Watson. “Those companies are not local. They’re not in schools, churches, funeral homes, community events. It makes it harder to keep a local shop going when they mass advertise and present themselves as they’re local, but we do what we have to do to make margins and compete.”
Shopping locally is something Watson believes is part of her core business strategy, a tradition started by her parents, Doris and Larry Watson who taught her how to focus on customer service. Her father Larry passed away five years ago to cancer.
“We were renting the business back then and it wasn’t for sale, but when it became available we purchased it,” said Doris Watson. “Larry and I started this business and passed it on. That’s what families do.”
Doris, now retired for two years, returns to the shop to handle bookkeeping for her daughter.
“She does a really good job designing and running her business,” said Doris Watson about her daughter.
“We don’t buy merchandise unless the company is here, like in this country,” said a smiling Donna Watson. “I buy my flowers from North Carolina businesses. I don’t ship them in. I buy it from North Carolina growers,” said Watson. “Sure, I can call the Internet and get things cheaper, but I stick with tradition.”
Several days a week, Donna makes precise selections on flowers, as vendors arriving to Elkin from throughout North Carolina visit her shop to sell flowers that have yet to be sold.
“And some of them are now charging me an extra $6.50 per delivery due to gas prices,” said Watson. “It’s really tough because I want to keep costs down, but mills hurt us, fees hurt us.”
During the tour of the business basement, Donna smiles and pays tribute to her late father, Larry.
She said Larry built an indoor walk-in cooler.
“It’s 50 degrees in here. I can stick four funerals in here.,” said Watson. According to Watson, Larry spent five days with a jackhammer breaking through this concrete to make the doorway that houses the massive walk-in cooler.
“The building used to be a gas station. Did you know that right now we’re standing under a driveway,” said Watson.
Watson lives in Elkin. The 51-year-old smiles and says that she is not married, but she has a boyfriend.
When asked if men come into the store leaving the creation of special flowers in her hands, Watson said she gets them all the time.
“When they walk in here and don’t say anything, I know the exact flowers they need,” said Watson. “Maybe it’s because they forgot to take out the trash or mow the lawn. Most of the time its because they simply love the person they’re buying flowers for, and words can’t speak as much as flowers do.”
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org