With Valentine’s Day just a couple of days away, Alexis Madison and Jane Stewart at Smith’s Flowers are working long hours in the new shop to complete all of the orders. The shop moved from its previous location on 106 N. Broad St to its new home at 92 N. Broad St. after Stewart sold the business to Madison. Stewart, who owned Smith’s Flowers for 9.5 years, said she sold the business to Madison on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Lexi cares about what she does, she’s a hard worker, she has a good business sense to her, and she’s very community-oriented,” Stewart said.
Prior to owning Smith’s Flower Shop, Madison owned Garland’s Flowers in Hudson, Michigan. Stewart said she visited Madison when Garland’s opened and could see that she knew how to run a store.
“I saw that she was going to outgrow it very quickly,” Stewart said.
Stewart said she had a 10-year plan with Smith’s Flower Shop and wanted the last event she did to be her daughter’s wedding, which is coming up in July. Even though Stewart no longer owns the shop, she’s helping out two times a week until her daughter’s wedding.
Madison said she’s glad Stewart is still in the shop because it gives her more time to see how everything should be run. When Stewart first approached her about buying the shop, Madison said she was shocked.
“I thought I wasn’t ready for that,” Madison said. “But it’s taught me a lot, and I shadowed over here last summer.”
While she admits there’s been a learning curve, Madison said she’s already learned how to run the business like Stewart. Madison said she wants to master her customer service skills, something Stewart is very good at.
“I can’t say that I can steal her personality, everybody loves Jane, and I want to learn everything she knows and what her motive is behind it,” Madison said.
Madison said there’s an age gap between her and Stewart, but they have learned to be honest with each other and often do the same things around the shop.
“People call me mini-Jane because we act so alike or talk so alike,” Madison said. “We get each other so well, which is great to have that relationship with her.”
Both Stewart and Madison emphasized that Smith’s Flower’s sells emotions.
“Here we are on Valentine’s Day, and that’s always full of energy, love, and emotion,” Stewart said.
Madison added that each event leads to a different emotion, whether it be a celebratory bride at a wedding, grieving family member at a funeral, or grateful mother on Mother’s Day.
“The amount of emotions you feel, you begin to feel like you’re part of their family at that point,” Madison said. “It is different because I’m not from Hillsdale. In Hudson, I know most of the families, so it’s been an adjustment to understand where these people are coming from or what the customer had been going through.”
Even with the adjustment to a larger community, Madison said she is getting to know the Hillsdale community.
“People want to get to know me as much as I want to get to know them,” Madison said.
Both Stewart and Madison agreed that the biggest event they have created arrangements for was the Hillsdale College Gala in the fall of 2019.
“The gala was a great experience,” Madison said. “It was crazy because it was so busy. It really tested us, but it was amazing to see the number of things we did. We had 600 pieces come out of the store, and for a little shop to produce all of that was amazing.”
From big events to small events, Stewart said the shop is always busy jumping from one holiday to the next. With all of the changes, Stewart said, she can never pick a favorite season.
“I watch the cooler change about four times a year,” Stewart said. “It’s red, white, and pink right now. And then we’ll go into spring with pastels. And we’ll go into bolder and warmer colors in the summer. And then in the fall we’ll have coppers and golds and then back to Christmas with greens and reds.”
Madison said her favorite type of work is sympathy pieces because she has so much practice in that area, but she also enjoys wedding season.
“Jane and I, we’re the only ones that deliver weddings because it does need to be perfect, the bride is expecting it to be perfect,” Madison said. “It is great, I love to hear their reactions.”
One of the more difficult aspects of the job, Madison said, is the inconsistency in work schedule. “We can’t leave until the job is done,” Madison said. “Making it through those 14 hour days is rough, but my girls are great.”