Interview with a Florist; Part 1 With Tracy Vincent
Tracy Vincent; Whiting Flower Shoppe, Whiting, NJ
I met Tracy, like most of my floral friends, on-line. I'm old enough to remember chat groups on sites such as MySpace and MTV Music Boards and when Facebook came out, it was the perfect place to hook up with other florists. Although I've driven by her shop on my way back from Atlantic City many times, I have never met Tracy in person. Tracy had been one of my go-to people when I wanted to get a feel for what was going on in the business in our state. She inspired these interviews, so I thought it fitting for her to be the first post!! Enjoy Tracy's fascinating and unique story!!
How did you get into the flower business?
As a kid one of my childhood friends owned the local flower shop in town. I started working there when I was about 15 years old. During this time, I was doing all the different tasks in the shop and learning as I went along. When I was old enough to drive, I started making flower deliveries! To this day, I still look up to and thank Debbie, the owner, for taking me under her wing and teaching me so much!
When I went away to college I would sometimes come back and help her. I also got jobs in Jersey City and Hawaii during college. During this time, I learned how to create floral designs and had great exposure to Hawaiian tropical designs and how to create hotel arrangements. At the time, I had been going to school to be in law enforcement, but I realized knocking on someone's door with flowers was so much nicer than a gun. LOL I ended up working as a social worker but I still moonlighted at a florist in Florida. Eventually I came upon a great opportunity to buy an existing flower shop in Ft Myers Florida. I was only 24 years old!! Sadly, this past hurricane ruined the building. While I was owning and managing that shop, I bought out a couple of other shops, not their locations, just their inventory, customers, etc. I had this shop for over 4 years. I ended up moving to West Palm Beach and bought the 3rd oldest flower shop in Palm Beach County! It’s called Prevatte Florist and it’s still in business today! I was fortunate enough to do high end hotels, corporate work and even did work for famous celebrities. In 2008 when the economy took a negative turn, I decided to sell the shop and go back to New Jersey. In 2010, I opened my current shop, completely from scratch and still own it today! My shop is called Whiting Flower Shoppe and it's located 550 Route 530 in the Crestwood Shopping Center in Whiting, NJ.
What part of the business is the most valuable?
Most important thing is my reputation and being able to service my customers! Without both of these, I would have no business, no livelihood.
What part of the business is the least valuable?
There’s nothing less valuable! It's all important. All aspects of my current shop bring profits to the business.
If you could change any aspect of your business, what would you change?
I wish I was able to really use my college degrees. I might have wanted to get a normal job and have the benefits. If I had not been so involved in my business, maybe I would have gotten married and had kids but I guess I've been married to my shops.
If you could go back to the beginning, what words of advise would you give yourself? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
I would change having to deal with employees. I have found it to be a struggle no matter how good I treat them.
Thinking about your business, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that for the past 26 years I have owned and operated 5 shops, in 3 locations in 2 different states! I was able to provide for myself using my hands and brain! I only had myself to depend on, and that was not easy. As I will be turning 50 in November, I’m looking forward to spending the second half where I plan to put myself first. I no longer want to take a backseat to my business. I'm proud of myself for all I have accomplished but I am mostly grateful and thankful I was able to be a successful small business owner!