Elizabeth House Flowers
Having been in business for 24 years - and in Southend for 18 of those - David Wynn of Elizabeth House Flowers knows how to make Mother's Day special.
David and his team of at least 17 employees (and trust me when I tell you there are way more there this weekend) make sure to always carry a large selection of unusual flowers, exotics, and "the prettiest orchid plants in town," as David says.
Having a high end floral boutique that locals flock to was exactly what David and his business partner, Cecil Shearin envisioned when they banded together in 1987 and started Elizabeth House Flowers in the old Elizabeth House.
Cecil, a gregarious and extremely talented designer, was as devoted to the shop as he was to gardening and his flower-loving friends.
And his flower-loving friends helped to spread the word about Elizabeth House Flowers, building a loyal fanbase. That loyalty was tested when the Elizabeth House was sold and Cecil and David were forced to move their shop. They moved to Southend in 1999.
"We were homesteaders," David said. "A great deal of my life has been in this little neighborhood."
The Southend of 1999 was not the same as the Southend of today. "The Atherton Mills was the only ember of hope in this neighborhood," David said.
Coming at the very beginning of the revitalization of Southend has led Elizabeth House Flowers to its share of trials. For instance, multiple delivery vans have been vandalized, a few have been stolen, windows have been broken, and decorative planters taken. David describes it as "a few hiccups," in his typically upbeat and optimistic way (his biggest job ever was ordered only 2 weeks before the wedding and for it Elizabeth House Flowers received the Isis Design Award - that type of "pulling it off" can only come from extreme optimism matched with extreme talent).
Elizabeth House Flowers has weathered the setbacks and come out on top time and time again. And Cecil was around to see the incredible change and growth in Southend and the effect it has had on their shop.
Since Cecil passed away two years ago, David and their employees have kept Cecil's memory alive.
For example, Cecil's cats, Coco and Oreo, still live at Elizabeth House Flowers. David has to administer shots to Coco (the poor kitty has feline diabetes). David is allergic to cats, but he makes it work because David isn't one to kick someone out over a little problem like that - feline or human.
"I think it's easier to fix a problem than to start again," he says. Which is the reason David's employees stick around as long as they do. Mark Rupert is one case-in-point. He has been with Elizabeth House Flowers for 25 years, on-and-off. And several other employees have retired from the shop.
Inspiring that type of loyalty from customers as well as employees is what has gotten David and Elizabeth House Flowers to where they are today - recognized as a local gem, a trustworthy and luxury florist where it's fun to get to know the staff.
It's also why you should call David if you haven't planned anything for your mother yet. Or any time you need a beautiful arrangement.
"If you're looking for high-end funk or (something more) classic, we can do it," David said.
So what do you have planned for your mother this Mother's Day?