ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
Brenda McGinness doesn’t mind the occasional jokes about the quirky name she’s given her new Main Street shop in Marion.
She’s just glad that Brenda’s Bloomers and Gifts is getting that much attention during its first months in business.
“There’s just a few jokes that I’m selling old-time bloomers again,” McGinness said with a laugh about the name.
“But people really like it,” she added. “I think we’ve gotten a good response from it.”
McGinness and part-time employee Twylah Nightingale of Florence happened on the word “bloomers” when searching for a name for their new full-service flower and gift shop, she said.
At first, they didn’t think they liked the word enough to use it.
“And then we decided, yeah, because it’s catchy enough that it’ll get people’s attention,” McGinness said. “So that’s why we did it, and it’s working.”
Brenda’s Bloomers and Gifts has been at 329 E. Main for just over a month now, McGinness said.
For nearly 14 years before that, those needing gifts could find McGinness down the street running Kraft Korner, which in recent years also housed the Flower Shoppe.
But when her full-time florist quit last December, at the same time that McGinness and husband David closed their restaurant, McGillicuddy’s, McGinness decided it was time to take matters-and flowers-into her own hands.
“I have always wanted a flower shop,” she said. “And I’ve always wanted to do it.
“So in January and February I took floral design classes and I have become a certified florist,” she said.
And when the owners of the building Kraft Korner was renting decided to sell, McGinness took the opportunity to relocate, rename and revamp the shop with herself as the new full-service florist.
With same-day service six days a week and delivery throughout Marion County, Brenda’s Bloomers aims to put the customer first.
“We do weddings, funerals, birthdays, any occasion,” she said. “We have a large assortment of different flowers, so we can do just about whatever anybody wants.”
Open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the shop accepts cash, checks and major credit cards.
Customers also can take advantage of the recently added cash-and-carry service, McGinness said.
“You come in, we’ve got things made up, you can go,” she said.
FTD and Teleflora wire service also make it possible for the shop to send or receive flower orders to and from anywhere in the world.
“We do a lot of wire service,” McGinness said. “But I have a lot more incoming orders from the wire service than I do outgoing.”
Delivery in Marion is free for orders of $10 or more.
After just a month at her new location, McGinness already is adding a couple more new services that she is excited to share with her customers.
“We’re starting a Five-Dollar Flower Friday,” she said. “You can pick up a bunch of fresh flowers for $5.
“We’re also starting a customer rewards program,” she continued. “After their first initial purchase, (customers) can get a reward card, and every purchase after that, if it’s $15 or more they’ll get a 10 percent discount.
In addition to her fresh-cut flowers, McGinness also offers a selection of blooming plants and silk-flower arrangements.
“It seems to me like people like (silk) better than fresh because they just last longer and they don’t have to care for them,” she said. “So we’ve had a lot of calls for those.”
But while McGinness wants to emphasize her selection of flowers and plants, it’s definitely the “and Gifts” part of the shop that takes up the most space.
With a large assortment of Boyd’s Bears, Highland Graphics products, Colonial at HOME candles and Willow Tree figurines, McGinness said name-brand home decorating items comprise the majority of her inventory.
Customers can also peruse her unique selection of jewelry and Smith and Vandiver bath and body products for women.
An incoming line of laser-cut pocket knives, key rings and money clips will soon provide more gift options for men as well.
“We’re trying to get gifts for all ages,” McGinnis said.
Her three lines of greeting cards include two collections for $1 or less per card as well as a new line of pop-up cards by Treasures for $5 each, which McGinness said have been extremely popular.
Also toward the front of her store is a variety of K-State and KU paraphernalia and an assortment of eye-catching battery-operated mobiles.
“I like different things that maybe nobody else will carry,” McGinness said. “That’s my goal-just to always keep getting new products in.”
McGinness still serves her homemade fudge and has the beginnings of a coffee bar, she said, where she and part-time employees Nightingale and Jamie Norris of Marion serve coffee, soft drinks and iced tea.
While her selection may seem extensive to new customers, McGinness said it’s been downsized substantially from her former location.
“The only challenge I have is I have half the space,” she said. “I have to learn to combine a lot.
“We’ve cut down inventory quite a bit,” she added. “We probably have at least half of what we used to have.”
The downsizing has forced her to select only the best product lines for her inventory, McGinness said.
“We’re going with what we feel the public wants, what they’re looking for,” she said.
So far the change of look and location has been good, McGinness said.
“We have a lot of new people that have come in,” she said. “We think this is a good place.”
For October, McGinness has planned an all-in-one grand reopening, holiday open house and birthday bash event.
“At that time we’ll just do lots of door prizes and free drawings,” she said. “It’ll be fun.”
McGinness said she would love to eventually expand her floral service to go outside the county.
“But this is a good start, can’t start too big,” she said. “This is where we’re going to start right now.”
But that doesn’t mean she won’t keep attending seminars and classes to fine-tune her skills as a florist.
“You can always take more courses,” she said. “I do go to those things.”
McGinness is excited for the opportunity to fully devote her working hours to running a flower and gift shop, instead of splitting her time between that and cooking at the restaurant.
“I’m here full-time again, back to my first love,” she said. “Everybody wants me to get back into the food service, but no, I don’t want to do that again.”
When McGinness moved from to Marion 15 years ago with her husband and her daughter, JoAnna, she had absolutely no retail experience.
“We farmed before we moved here,” she said. “We moved to town, and then we decided it was time to quit the farm, and so then I just started doing business.
“I just got different advice from different people that had been in business,” she added. “We started going to market and just did it.”
After nearly 15 years working in retail, McGinness said it’s the Golden Rule that governs her customer service.
“I treat people the way I would want to be treated,” she said. “Our customer’s just number one.
“I make up arrangements the way I would like them,” she added. “If I don’t like it, it’s not going out the door.
“I’ll redo it, however much it takes.”
McGinness said she is happy to help customers decide on the “right” floral arrangement for the occasion.
“If they come in and they don’t have any idea what I can do, I show them my wire service books, to kind of give them ideas,” she said.
“Or they just let us do our own thing, and that’s kind of fun, too.
“Most people don’t have a clue what kind of flowers there are or what they want,” she added. “They just know how much money they want to spend.
“They usually just let it up to us what we want to do,” she said.
The most popular flower choices may come as no surprise: “A lot of people do roses, and a lot of people just like an assortment.”
During the summer months, McGinness said sunflowers, irises and daisies are good seasonal choices, while roses and carnations are basically always in season.
“Pretty much anymore, the way they produce flowers, you can get almost anything you want yearround,” she said.
Flowers range in cost from daisies and carnations as least expensive and roses and lilies as the priciest choices.
When given the choice, McGinness opts for variety rather than uniformity in her arrangements.
“That’s the way I like to make arrangements is with color,” she said. “So we always add a lot of color to it, and people really tend to like that.”
McGinness stressed the full-service aspect of her flower shop: customers can reach her at 620-382-2525 during business hours and at 382-2975 for emergency service during evenings and weekends.
“If anything happens evenings or weekends, they can always call me,” she said. “Customer service is our number-one thing.”