“Lori McNorton is the owner, chief designer and gift buyer at Blooms on Boswell in Topeka, Kan.
This is her success story.”
WHY, OH WHY… OPENING A FLOWER SHOP, NOW? I was attending a 2018 holiday party at Baisch & Skinner [Wholesale Floral Distributor] when
I heard that another lovely Topeka floral shop was closing. I hurried over to Flowers by Bill to wish Bill Lierz a happy retirement and thank him for his years of serving the community. Looking around the 1923 building that was home to Bill’s shop, I noticed the beautiful tin ceiling, the original woodwork and the meat hook that was installed when this shop was a neighborhood grocery store. It sounds corny, but the building tugged at
my heartstrings. The store is just two blocks from Washburn University, across the street from a popular park and close to a well-attended church. There is a movement here, as in many places, of people who want to support good local businesses, and I thought that a trendsetting floral and gift boutique would work for this community. With encouragement from my husband, Tom, I purchased the store in January 2019.
I didn’t have lots of money and needed to make some while I transitioned Bill’s business to mine. I kept the Flowers by Bill brand and introduced myself to his customers as they called and stopped in. We pulled out old counters and replaced them with a huge custom wood table. Paint is relatively cheap, so we painted the outside and inside of the store. As the curb appeal changed, more and more people stopped in, enthusiastically urging me on. In April 2019, we had a grand opening and an unveiling of our new name, Blooms on Boswell.
After the grand opening, the community rallied. They love this neighborhood, and they want businesses in it to flourish. I began to hold floral classes. Readers might remember that I did many how-tos for Florists’ Review, and I love to demonstrate. I’ve held two classes each month and plan to do more. It’s a great way to get people into the store and build a community committed to my business.
I could tell that my customers would be receptive to other things, in addition to beautiful flowers and plants. I added a line of jewelry and followed with handbags and purses. For the Christmas season, I added scarves and shawls. I’m learning what sells and at what price points.
I’m at the shop all day. When customers call, email or stop by, I ask how they heard about us. Invariably they report that they saw us on Facebook and/or Instagram. I’ve hired an amazing social media and photography wiz, Mikaela Gibbs. She’s putting us on the map. Right now, she’s plotting our 2020 marketing goals. We will rock! Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.
I’m passionate about floral design. I’m a good teacher. I can organize and plan big weddings and other events. I’m good with people and can put in long physical days. I’m lousy at finances and keeping books, so I hired a great part-time accountant/business manager. I know good marketing when I see it, but I have little experience in that area, so I hired Mikaela, also part-time. A beautiful and functioning website is a window to a business, so I invested in the building of mine, and I’m pleased with it. I’m going to grow the wedding business into Kansas City and other adjacent towns, and I’ve purchased Details Flowers Software to help propose and manage events.
When I was in high school, I was given a book describing jobs and careers and was asked to pick one I liked. I chose florist, which, in those days, meant a store- based floral designer. After graduation, I took a six-week floral design course and went to work at Char’s Flowers, one of Topeka’s grand floral shops at the time. I made bows for months! I went on to work for other large florists and also worked in the wholesale business. In 2012, I started my own home-based business, Simply Stunning Floral Design, and in 2014, I became the floral designer for Florists’ Review and Super Floral magazines. I’ve done it all, and I’m so excited, content and happy to have my own shop. Heck, I’m thrilled to be making bows – for me!