Interview with a Florist; Part 4 With Betsy Hall

 Betsy Hall; Halls Flower Shop and Garden Center, 5706 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain, GA

I met Betsy back in 2011 at a convention held in Atlanta for a group called "Florists for Change". What a dynamo she was advocating for florists against the big 3 "Floral Wire Services". What I love about Betsy is her can do attitude and her willingness to be there for other florists, like me, when I needed advice or help. Enjoy Betsy's story! 

How did you happen to get into the flower business?

I was in my senior year of high school living in a new city and needed a job to pay for gas money. I loved flowers and gardening all my life so as many folks do, I applied to work at a small florist thinking it would be fun, like enjoying a hobby. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to own my own business so I found a job at a flower shop that lasted just between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They let me go Christmas Eve, what a bummer!! After Christmas I went on the hunt for a new job. I decided I wanted to work for one of the best flower shops or garden centers in Atlanta and I thankfully found one close to my high school that was both. I was hired to work four days for the Valentine Holiday and I made sure to work my bottom off so that they would want to keep me and they did!! There I met the owners son, found love, and got married a year and a half later. 

What part of the business is the most valuable?

Over the years, this answer has probably changed many times but today my most valuable part of my business is the people. Whether it's my employees, working with my husband, customers, or vendors, I have found people are what brings joy to my day and meaning to my work. When I take the time to invest in the people who I encounter at the Flower Shop, I find the return of my invest to be very high. It pays back in customers having the confidence to trust us with important occasion, employees caring about their work and the people around them, vendors caring about me and my needs, and most of all having a pleasant ride home from work with my husband! I still care about beautiful flowers, order value and cost of goods, all those things that bring value to the bottom line of the business, but people are my driving force behind it all. 

If you could go back to the beginning, what words of advice would you give yourself? What do you wish you knew then that you  know now? 

I'd tell myself to stay curious. In the early years I'd react instead of plan. When I was younger, I wish I knew I had the ability to do whatever I needed to do to keep my business running efficiently and profitably. We purchased the business from Ken's parents in 2004 and coasted for a few years just doing what we always did to get by, but then the recession started and things became very hard. During the recession we worked long and hard, it wasn't easy but we came out the other side a much stronger business. Making good friends in the floral industry through our Midwest Floral Group, and other groups I've been involved with, helped me mature into a smarter florist! 

If you could change any aspect of your business, what would you change?

Surprisingly, I'd change plants into not needing to be watered everyday!! Running a flower shop is work enough but our garden center is constant watering, plant care, watering, watering, watering, and finding people to help water, water on Sunday, water when we were on vacation, water when we're tired of watering, watering, watering....!! We don't have a very automated garden center so we hand water everything. Water, water, water!!! Can you tell I need a few days off from watering plants? LOL 

Thinking about your business, what are you most proud of?

I am proud of my Father and Mother-in-Law for building a business that my husband and I wanted to and were able to purchase and operate. My husband Ken has worked at our shop his entire life. He has a degree in Horticulture and juggles the flower shop and garden center very well. Our efforts of education and hard work have been wisely invested in a business that has been worthy of the expense. Our kids, who are not involved in our business, are proud of their family's name in the flower industry and even though they are in completely different lines of work, they respect our professionalism and current reputation.