Flower Cart celebrates milestone
WC business observes 60 years of service
A Webster City business is marking a notable milestone this week.
The Flower Cart, located at the corner of Second and Prospect streets, has been in continuous operation for the past 60 years.
The business has had seven owners since it opened on Oct. 11, 1961. Bob and Marilyn Manke opened the Flower Cart and also the Country Garden Store, a greenhouse located on the west edge of Webster City.
The current owners, Tim and Julie Huff, purchased the flower shop on Oct. 11, 1992 from the previous owner, Gary and Marilyn Bridger. Not long after, they also purchased the Country Garden Store.
When Huff graduated from high school, he planned to become a mechanic.
“I did that for a few weeks and got laid off at Christmas time. In January of 1980 I started working at a greenhouse, and after that, I didn’t know why I wanted to be a mechanic,” Huff said.
“Dirt is easier to wash off than grease,” he said, chuckling.
Huff also hit the road as a salesman for the Bosen family, traveling to Spirit Lake and Storm Lake, stopping in each of the small towns to sell to florists and greenhouses. Later in the week, he would travel south to Chariton, Osceola and Des Moines to sell items from the greenhouse.
“Many of the people I met back then, I’m still dealing with today,” he said.
Huff and his wife run the business today. They bring in some seasonal help around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“The rest of the time, we do it all,” he said. “Take, make and deliver.”
The year of the pandemic was pretty tough on a lot of businesses, and Huff said his was no different. The business encountered supply issues and has sometimes had difficulty finding certain flowers.
The year after he bought the shop was pretty difficult as well. That was 1993 when Iowa and the Midwest experienced severe flooding.
“The first year in the greenhouse was a disaster because of the flooding,” he said. But Huff’s ties to managers of Earl May stores from his sales days helped keep the greenhouse in operation.
“They bought things from the greenhouse. We didn’t lose as much that year as we could have,” he said.
He said the way people order flowers and plants today have changed over the years. Many people order online now, and others rely on calling 800 numbers that arrange for flower deliveries.
“The trouble there is the people taking orders mostly haven’t worked in the flower business and don’t know one flower from another,” he said. He recommends that people call the Flower Cart and Huff can arrange for flower deliveries to be sent just about anywhere. By doing that, the middleman is cut out and Huff said it’s a better value for customers.
“We appreciate all of the people who have done business with us here locally,” he said. The Flower Cart frequently hears from former area residents who’ve moved to other parts of the country, who still order flowers from the Webster City business.
“They may live in Florida and live only 20 miles from where they want to send the flowers, but they still call us to send them,” he said.
That’s a level of trust that he’s developed with customers over the years. That may be why the shop earned the Daily Freeman-Journal’s Readers Choice Award for Best Florist in 2021 and in many other years as well.
Next year will mark 30 years in business for the Huffs.
“I really enjoy the people and families we’ve gotten to know through the years,” he said.