Philpott Florists at 100: Flower shop powers through pandemic disruptions
Philpott Florists and Greenhouses celebrated its 100th anniversary March 11 with an open house amid its usual beehive of activity of designing and delivering arrangements for businesses, funerals, weddings, birthdays and other events.
“It’s fun. You relieve peoples’ emotions. We sell emotions first,” owner Ray Maddox said that day. Roses of various shades are stored in a walk-in cooler at Philpott Florist and Greenhouses. The Abilene flower shop marked 100 years on March 11. (Photo: Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter-News) Within days, the coronavirus COVID-19 came in like a spray of pesticides on bees’ favorite blooms, interrupting the prelude to Philpott’s next century of business. Not exactly bloom to doom
Orders withered as local and state bans on social gatherings of 10 or more had a domino effect. There were fewer arrangements for downsized or postponed weddings and small graveside-only funerals conducted by videoconference.
Businesses sent office workers home, drying up calls for event centerpieces and special-occasion deliveries to employees.
Fewer customers walked into the showroom at 1902 N. First St. for home décor ideas or to pick up an arrangement. Wholesale floral suppliers came to a standstill. Chris Katz designs a Mother’s Day floral arrangement at Philpott Florist and Greenhouses on Tuesday. The florist shop will create approximately 300-400 arrangements for the holiday, which is May 10 “We still did had quite a bit of stuff going to homes, and we did have some hospital deliveries, some nursing homes, of course” manager Chris Katz said Monday. “Just much less business than typically before.”
Philpott Florists reduced hours, instituted curb-side pickup, sanitized more frequently and offered no-contact delivery with the mask- and glove-wearing drivers alerting recipients that a delivery was on the doorstep.
On April 10, the business closed temporarily for about 10 days to wait out the effects of COVID-19 in the community, Katz said.
The recent relaxing of government restrictions on social gatherings and business activities is ending this dormancy.
“We had quite a bit of funeral work over the weekend,” Katz said.
With Mother’s Day a week away, there are other early signs that some business normalcy is about to return.
“We’re thinking it’s going to be extra busy because a lot of people still won’t be able to visit their mom,” Katz said.
Flower orders usually account for about 70 percent to 75 percent of the orders, followed by plants, but the staff also can arrange and deliver gift baskets of fresh fruit, gourmet candies, candles and other gifts. History in springs forth
Maddox, the fourth owner of Philpott’s, has operated the business longer than the three previous owners, who were related.Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Philpott opened the floral shop in 1920 at 241 Sayles Blvd. Three years later, their daughter, Ruth Philpott, started a 22-year run at overseeing day-to-day affairs. Ray Maddox, owner of Philpott Florists and Greenhouses, in the shop’s greenhouse-like conservatory, where tropical plants and succulents are kept. She was succeeded by cousin Harriett Lovelady in 1945.Maddox started at Philpott’s as a delivery boy while attending then-McMurry College. He transferred to Southern Methodist University […]