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IOWA CITY - These are challenging times. But a beautiful bouquet of flowers goes a long way to brightening someone's day.
Kerrie Buettner, who co-owns Every Bloomin' Thing with her husband, Zachary, is thankful for that.
The Buettners took over ownership of the landmark Iowa City flower shop in March 2019, as the business' third owners in more than 50 years.
'The former owner wanted to retire and it was looking like no one was going to buy the floral part of the business but wanted to buy the location to turn it into a nail salon, and people were sad about that,” said Buettner who was working part time as a floral designer at the shop.
'My husband was getting set to retire after 25 years in the Army. And I've always wanted to own my own business. We talked and decided that this would be a sound investment.
Having a family business is fun, she added.
'It's a little scary right now. But all our kids work here and are learning a lot about what it's like to have a job. Customers really enjoying seeing our teenagers in the store.”
Those customers become like family, too, she said.
'I have regular customers I look forward to seeing every single week.” Buettner said. 'It really opens up your community.”
Every Bloomin' Thing offers airy, garden-style arrangements - featuring a lot of hydrangea, lilies, delphinium and roses - and deliver throughout Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty.
'We are a custom-design studio. You can look into our cooler and pick which stems you like to build a bouquet from that,” she said.
But customers are likely to have noticed some tweaks to the business as the Buettner's put their own mark on the business.
'Since we bought the business, we really stepped up the house plant game here,” said Buettner, noting that customers also will be able to get to know more of the staff members when they are able to come back into the shop.
'We started bringing our staff out more, so our customers can get to know all of our designers,” she said. 'It's hard time after time to make beautiful arrangements when people really don't quite know what they want and it can be stressful when they walk in to pick it up because you want them to love it.”
Another addition of the Buettner's is the creation of Memorable Moments by Every Bloomin' Thing, which will focus on events throughout the Corridor.
'I'm trying to grow a full-service event planning business, not just the floral aspect,” Buettner explained. 'A bride can come to us and share her vision and we can get the right people around the table so she can share her vision one time. We can be the wedding planners day of to make sure everything runs smoothly. This could be for a wedding, an upscale graduation party or a business that wants to do an amazing open house. We are excited to take on that type of event.”
Of course in recent weeks, Buettner said they have had to make some drastic changes to deal with the pandemic. They closed the store to walk-in traffic two weeks ago and operated a walk-up window for purchases for a few days.
'We are still doing no contact deliveries, which are very fun right now because people are being flexible. We are putting things on the porches and giving them a thumbs up when we see that they get it,” she said.
'We were closed this week for some time to chart our new path forward, and to inventory and deep-clean the store, but we are excited to catapult our business forward in the coming weeks,” she added, noting that local efforts to support locally owned businesses through Facebook groups have been encouraging.
'I've seen some really positive business come out of that. We are being tagged as a place to go for flowers and plants. People are ordering two or three arrangements for friends they can't visit right now.”
But the coming months could be especially tough.
'In the flower shop annual year, the month of May is probably the biggest profit month of all because of prom and graduations …
so when that all got canceled it was tough to hear,” she said. 'Mother's Day is still going to happen, but with people being laid off no one knows how that is going to be.
'Last year May got me through June, July and August, which tend to be slower months in a flower shop. And people are postponing weddings and you just don't know (if) they are going to book their next event at the same price point. We are predicting losing 75 percent of our business in the coming months.”
But Buettner is hopeful, knowing the flower shop made it through the 2008 flood, when water reached the roof of the front porch.
'This flower shop has had to weather some interesting times,” she said.
Many small businesses in the Corridor still are at work. If you know a business that could make for an intriguing 'My Biz” feature, let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
' Owner: Kerrie Buettner
' Business: Every Bloomin' Thing
' Address: 2 Rocky Shore Dr., Iowa City
' Phone: (319) 351-7242
' Website: everybloominthingiowacity.com