I have an itch for a niche to grow something small scale that no one else is growing.
By Kathleen Swift
“The old is coming back to life,” said Bill Tandy. Tandy and his wife, Marilyn, own and operate Florette Florist at 1608 S. Maple in Carthage, Missouri, as well as Countryside Florist in Joplin, Missouri. Bill and Marilyn have big plans for the greenhouse that sits adjacent to the Florette Florist shop.
“The business began in 1948 as Behl’s Florist and was owned by the Quackenbush family. We purchased the business in 2006. I had worked in manufacturing for 32 years and originally bought the business to flip it,” said Bill. “The Quackenbushses had grown geraniums in the greenhouse, and that was their forte. When we purchased the Florette, I tried following their lead and grew geraniums for one year. The bills to heat the greenhouse didn’t make that a good option for us, and we abandoned the space at that time. But we refurbished the buildings and continued to operate the Florette.”
Now Bill has a new dream and vision for the old greenhouse space next to the main structure. His dream is to make the old space into something completely new that will serve his customers in some new ways. Over the course of the last year and a half, things have changed.
“I started by removing all of the old glass on the 25 x 100-foot greenhouse and replaced it with new polycarbonate material,” explained Bill. “I’ve added some stone walls with windows, too. The new material will help with the heating bill, and it lets us use part of the space for a new floral area that will include fountains, greenery, sympathy stones, statuary, birdbaths and more in one section of the greenhouse.
“We are also using a portion of the greenhouse space to grow mums this year, and they should be ready by Maple Leaf Parade day in Carthage. We may get other things growing there, too. I’d like to grow succulents and have a line of dish gardens available. Nothing is set is stone, but I have plans and ideas for getting more going in the greenhouse,” said Bill. “I have an itch for a niche to grow something small scale that no one else is growing.
“We carry quality products, and I am talking to a local manufacturer of fountains and birdbaths that will hold up in our climate of freezing in the winter and heat in the summer. The items look like marble but are made of concrete. They may cost a bit more, but I want to have quality items for our customers, or I won’t carry a line of a product at all.”
Bill continues to work on renovating the greenhouse with the help of Scott Timmsen, who Bill calls his right-hand man. Bill is a cancer survivor, and the effects of the disease still limit the amount of time he can work on a project.
“I have to pace myself,” said Bill. “I found a gem in Scott. He can do what needs to be done and does a phenomenal job. I tell him what I have in mind, and he gets it done. We’re a good team working together.”
As far as the floral business goes, Bill said flowers still play an important role in people’s lives, and he and Marilyn are happy to be a part of that. From flowers for weddings, birthdays, special occasions of joy to times of sorrow or remembrance when a loved one has passed, flowers hold a special place.
Bill recalled, “I talked with a woman who had a philodendron that ran all around the room. It had come from a funeral, and family members had taken cuttings in order to have their own plant. It became a family heirloom.”
The renovation of the greenhouse will only add to those traditions and the joy that flowers and plants can bring to our lives. Bill’s dream is to continue to serve his customers and expand his offerings with the best quality and the best service.
Bill and Marilyn believe in shopping locally.
“Keep your dollars close to home,” said Bill.
And by growing Florette, he and Marilyn are doing just that.