Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact

Episode 16: Ready-Set-Grow!

April 22, 2021 Create Bridges AR Season 1 Episode 16
Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact
Episode 16: Ready-Set-Grow!
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode, Murriel Wiley in the 3Cs talks with Amelia Moore of Picalily Flowers and Gifts in Nashville, Arkansas, who shares her story about becoming a small business owner in rural Arkansas. Amelia's passion for what she does, the people that are part of the team, and why she invested into the renovation of a building on main street that is over 100 years old comes through as she shares just how rewarding this journey continues to be. This is another great episode of owning and running a business in rural Arkansas.

Picalily Flowers & Gifts
218 South Main Street
Nashville, Arkansas 71852
870-845-2738
https://www.picalilyflowers.net/

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Come join us, explore the impact of small business here in rural Arkansas.

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What challenges would you face? Who can help you meet those challenges? How do you get in touch with others like you?

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This is Create Bridges, Arkansas, and we invite you to come cross these bridges with us.

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We're back with another episode of the Create Bridges podcast series.

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Arkansas Small Business, Big Rural Impact. I'm program coordinator for the Cossatot Region, Murielle Wiley.

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And we thank you for joining us for this episode. Today, we're talking with Amelia Moore of Amelias piccalilli in Nashville.

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This is a store that serves the Howard County community as a florist and gift outlet for weddings,

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birthdays, anniversaries, banquets, funerals, graduations, baby showers, name an event.

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And they can cover it. In addition to the flower shop, the same building also houses a clothing boutique, a bakery, a new coffee shop.

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And we even do tuxedo rentals in order to keep serving the community for special occasions.

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Amelia has invested in a historic building located on Main Street in Nashville.

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The business continues to add new services and features so they can stay relevant and valuable to their customers.

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Thank you so much for being our guest today, Miss Amelia. We appreciate you being with us.

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And we want to talk about how your store offers so much to the community and that the business has been in Nashville for more than 30 years.

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Let's talk about how you got started and why this company has been so successful for so long.

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OK. Just a real brief on how I got started. I had worked part time at the local florist here, that same florist.

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When my children were little and I just needed to have a little bit of extra money and be available for them as the mom.

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After that, I went to work as our foundation director at the hospital and did some grant writing and things.

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But that also was in that same industry because you do a lot of fund raising, which is decorating and floral and all of that.

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I am not cut out for corporate environment. I learned real quickly I'm too independent and headstrong and apparently a little bit mouthy.

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Sometimes it's that I thought I'd got to be where I'm my own boss.

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I don't do well with monotony. And so the lady, the owner of the piccalilli flowers, was wanting to retire.

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We were friends. We go to church together. And I just really one day said, honey, I'm going to call Cheri and buy in the business.

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And, you know, I think he could see the look in my eye and said, just don't get in her way.

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And so I bought it and we've gone from there. So you basically just told your husband, oh, by the way, we're going to buy the flower shop.

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I did tell him. And he's a really good man.

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That's all I can say. And so as to the why. And you ask, like, why it's been successful for so long.

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Well, I think part of that is the talent that was involved in that first 30 years.

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Sherri is an incredibly talented florist. There is nothing that you mentioned that she says, I can't do that.

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She instantly says, sure, I've got it. And she really was.

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There's been florist come and go, but she was one that was around for so long that people trusted the brand.

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So when I bought the business, I knew immediately that I needed to keep that piccalilli name just because it people trusted it already.

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I was it was well established. So I think that's one of the reasons why it's done so well.

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Now, let's talk about your building. Your building is big and beautiful.

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And from what I understand, we talked about this before. It's over 100 years old, 110.

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I don't know, we think how old it was on why is was Jesus Chateau Piccalilli or is it.

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I mean, what are we calling it. No, but I think it's great that you've done so much to keep it and maintain it and restore it.

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Let's discuss that a little bit. What was the restoration process like and why did you choose to renovate such an old building?

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History is important to me. My family has been in Howard County.

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Well, the land that I live on has been in the family since the eighteen hundreds passed from different owners, of course.

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But as one family member maybe would lose it or pass away or whatever, another family member would purchase that.

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So that history is ingrained in me. When we moved here, I told my husband he's from Miami, Florida.

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You realize if we build a home here, we're here forever because that land will never leave.

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It's mine. So I kind of feel the same way about Main Street in Nashville.

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And as I look around, you see The little main streets across America are just slowly dying away.

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And that that just kills me because there's so many stories that can be told from from your little towns.

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They are. They are the backbone of our country.

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So there was absolutely no hesitation for me on whether or not I wanted to be on our main street.

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The current business. Well, when I bought it, the business was at that point on and on a little side street across from the funeral home,

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which is a prime location for a florist. But I.

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I just needed to be on a where I could be on that main street. See those cars.

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People see me. Also, I needed the space to own the bakery part.

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There were some different changes in laws. We already had fudge in the store.

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I knew I was going to need to build a kitchen. I mean, there was just a lot of factors into that.

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I prayed a lot and honestly, as one day I sat on my couch,

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I had all these papers on my lap and it was whether or not to add a kitchen on to the current building and what do I do?

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And I got a phone call from a gentleman who owned the current the building I'm in now.

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And he said, I've got a building for you. I was like, oh, absolutely not. I don't need anything else.

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I've just bought everything. And he said, I think you want to look at it.

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Well, when we got in, there was falling apart. It was a train wreck, but it had the bones.

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It had the plumbing that I needed. It had the space that I needed. And I thought, this is an answer to prayer.

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I can just tell you, I had lots of people in town, sweet, kind, loving people who said this is the biggest mistake you'll ever make.

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Moving from the location. That was such a great location. They didn't mean it in a mean way.

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They really were trying to be helpful. But I guess my one lesson to all small business owners right now is go with your gut.

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Just you just have to sometimes jump in. And so I did.

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I knew. I just knew in my gut I knew this is where we need to be.

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And I have. I feel like I have a legacy now because I'm in that Main Street history.

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People can look back and say, oh, yeah. There used to be this here in a restaurant here.

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And now they can say and there was a florist here. And so I love that.

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What did it take, though, to be able? You said it was falling apart.

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It was. What did you have to do to even get it to where it was not only inhabitable, but as beautiful as it is now?

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And we had three months. We bought it in May. We needed to be in like the.

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We bought the business in May 1st of June.

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We had the building we needed to be in at the end of August 1st of August.

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And so it's one of those things sometimes when you have a whole lot to do,

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you forget to think about all the problems and you just go to work every day.

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We would get up at 7:00. I would go to work. My husband's a tax accountant, and so tax season had ended.

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Not that he doesn't have a lot of work, but it's more flexible. He is good at everything.

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I married a great man. That's the second thing today. Marry a good partner because they are in your business with you whether they want to be or not.

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And so we just came to we just went to work every day.

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Every day we would say, what can we get done today? And we would we would do it.

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One of the benefits of a small town is you don't have quite the red tape that you probably have in larger cities.

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Not that we weren't up to code and things, but we had people who were willing to work with us who would help and or who would come and say,

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hey, I can paint this for you today or I can rip this flooring up today.

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And with any old building, you have to really be cautious of asbestos and lead paint and all those things.

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Did I know any of that when I went into it? No, because I'm just, you know.

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Oh, it's so pretty. And so that would be me. Yeah, I love it.

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And so we had a little freak out moment there for a minute.

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The building was luckily so very old that it was before built, before asbestos was used.

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So we were very lucky in that had to have some things tested, you know, things that that could have really been a bad thing.

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We worked out it worked in our favor all the way. So one of the things I do say is make sure you test your building before you ever sign a paper.

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Ask about those things like asbestos and lead paint. But don't be afraid of old buildings.

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They have character and they have history. And just dive in, every day people would stop and say, hey, what are you doing today?

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What's this going to be? How I'm so excited that you're doing something on Main Street. I mean,

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people wanted to support the business before we ever even moved simply because they felt like we were doing something to keep our city alive.

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And so I just think that's amazing. It is. And I know that there's a lot of grants out there for historic preservation, historic preservation minds.

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But I don't know if you guys utilize any of that funding or did you just go all in?

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Well, on budget, yeah, I'm really bad about just jumping on in and not thinking things through.

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I was a grant writer, though, in the past, so I didn't I didn't know about grant funding.

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The problem for me was I did not want any restrictions. We had such a short time limit and that we needed to be in there.

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We had we we rent the center space in that just to help with our building payment.

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We rent that out. And they were needing to be in the building by August. And so I was I felt like I'm putting out other people.

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I'm you know, I'm really on this deadline. I've got to do it not just for me, but for others.

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And so I know how long grants take. That was going to be an issue.

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And I just like I said, I'm just so independent and I want this light to be here, whether it's the right light or the right time or the right.

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I just I just want what I want. So I didn't even explore that, probably to the extent that I should.

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If you're not trying to do something in record time and on your own and you know by yourself, then that's it.

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That would be a major thing to look into because it's so helpful, you know, and and you can find people to help you do the grant writing.

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That's not hard. It's just having that time to do it.

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Absolutely. So within this big, beautiful, historic building you have, there are several different businesses, all in one.

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Let's chat a little bit about the connections between each of these different businesses.

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Right. You've got the floorist shop. You have the bakery. Nowadays, simply out of the coffee.

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Plus you have your boutique in there, too.

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So how do your customers utilize all these different services and how to each of these businesses connect and help each other?

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OK. I for the record, my employees have said I'm not allowed to add anything else.

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They are done . every day. I'm coming in and go and let's learn a new thing.

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They are just died. But also they are. They are. But when you are in a small town, you're competing not only with other businesses in your town,

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but with all of the bigger cities that they can drive to.

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And Texarkana is only an hour away, you know, hot springs, an hour and a half.

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And people will say, if I'm going to get this, I'll just go ahead and drive to a big city and get that.

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Plus eat out and do it, make a day of it. And so I have those things as competition as well.

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So it is important as a small business owner to keep.

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And to stay on your toes and say it doesn't matter if it's my favorite, I mean, I really am happy if I'm just putting flowers in a face.

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Right. But but what do the people want? What's going to make it was going to make people want to come in here again.

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And so the boutique was really out of convenience for me because I did need to rent that space out.

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But in my thinking was it's just something else to get people to come in the store because you don't need flowers every day.

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But a woman will come in a store to look at a shirt or look at jewelry and then say, oh, maybe,

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maybe I while I'm here, I need to send flowers to get to my grandmother's in the nursing home tomorrow.

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That's a great idea. Or maybe I needed to add some fudge and send it to my friend who's been in the hospital or, you know,

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any little thing that gets them in your store is is something that you need to consider,

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even if it's maybe not what you thought was in your box of goods that you wanted to offer.

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Go ahead and open that box up and just just explore. What do they need?

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Tuxedo rental, I can tell you right now is my least favorite thing.

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But it's needed. There's prom every year. There's weddings.

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If they're gonna get their flowers from me and their wedding cake for me, then I might as well get their tuxedos for me, too.

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So sometimes you just suck it up and say, I need to offer the service because the people need it, not because it's my favorite.

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As far as them working together, it really is a good, good mix because I have people who come in and get coffee.

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That's our newest. And that is harder than I thought it was going to be.

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But they come in and they get coffee and they they sit around and they enjoy it.

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And I really wanted that just that community atmosphere where they felt like they

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could come in and hang out if they wanted in while they're their shop a little bit.

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And, you know, just I just wanted it to be a place. People come in and say, oh, I feel like family when I'm here.

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And so we just keep adding, well, we did keep adding. I'm done adding.

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Right. You heard me say that twice. I'm done. You know what it is?

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It's the cupcakes. I know that it's not just you know, I assume if I ever came into your store,

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I had assumed that it was orders for events that you can buy a cake for a wedding or get, you know, a dessert for a baby shower.

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And you can just go buy an individual cupcake while you're shopping with your friend and grab a cup of coffee.

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It added an extra appeal for us. You know, as far as like, oh, we could just go there and eat cupcakes.

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Right. And I'll tell you how that Gary, real quickly, to just show you how things have to grow.

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When I bought the florist,

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the first thing I said is I want to do a little tiny cake that can be delivered with flowers as a birthday present, a little mini cake.

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It was gonna be one tiny little counter before I knew it. We've got full on cupcakes and everything mixed.

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There wasn't a bakery in Nashville. So look around that community and see what what is it lacking?

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What do we need? How can we do it? How can we incorporate it to what we already have?

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And that's what we did. I found a great baker who is also a great friend, and she was wonderful.

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And she handles those cupcakes. And I don't have to worry about them. I just eat them.

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That's exactly what I like. I've never made these myself.

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Yeah. Taste her analysis. Yeah.

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We'll make it scientific. Oh, it's not all not all those letters is gold and it's not always good times.

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I know over the last year we have had this global health crisis that is the COVID 19 pandemic.

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Let's talk about how that has impacted your business. Oh, that's such a weird thing.

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Florist, I think if you kind of do the research for as a holder and copied increased in business, not what people ever are expecting to hear.

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Everybody thinks of a florist is an extravagance. It's an extra it's not an essential.

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What we discovered, though, is that we deliver. We've been delivering from the beginning of florist.

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I mean, that is what you do. And so nursing home patients were not allowed to leave.

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People couldn't go visit their grandparents.

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Well, the best way to say I love you in an easy way is to call your florist and say, please send my mom something.

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I haven't seen her in three weeks. And so we would and we could sit it on their porch.

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We could call them. We could knock on their door and say, hey, Miss Ethel, I left you some flowers on the porch and leave.

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And I have yet to deliver flowers to somebody that wasn't excited to see them.

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And so they're happy. It just was a bright moment of happiness.

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So across the nation, florist really grew.

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The thing the bad thing from COVID is that all of our products have gone up in price because we can't get bases.

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We can't get peonies right now. That's a weird one we can't get because so much production was shut down.

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So many growers could not produce so many things.

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So we're limited on supplies. Now, anytime you have those limitations, your price goes up.

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So I think we have seen a big increase in price.

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So I expect this year to be harder on me after COVID dealing with the aftermath of covid than it was during the covid crisis itself.

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You're right. That does surprise me because I would have just assumed.

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Well, I'm sure less people are having weddings, less people are having a baby shower. So, of course, you're doing less business.

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But you're right, it was the opposite because late there, apart from their family.

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What better way to say I love You That's right. Last question I wanted to ask you.

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You have mentioned before that you've been on Main Street in Nashville and seeing lots of other stores come and go in your time there.

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Yes. Piccalilli is not only remains, it continues to grow to the point that your employees wont let you grow.

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That's right. And you're adding new features all the time, like online ordering the coffee shop, things of that nature.

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So with your longevity. What advice do you have for other business owners who are trying to make it in a small town and want to last?

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This is not a in any way a plug for my husband's business, but hire an accountant, hire an office manager, hire somebody.

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When you own your own business, you are so busy. When I say all consuming, I don't even know if that's a big enough term.

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You are all consumed with the business. You're making your customers happy.

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You're in charge of employees. You are everything you are.

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You are everything. I just can't even stress that enough. So you're in charge of making sure your building is clean.

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Did your workers show up on time? Did you decide to do this? Who did it?

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And before you know it, you've overspent on inventory. You haven't paid your bill the way that you should.

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It's not because you're bad or because you're even bad at managing money.

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It's because you don't have time.

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And so my husband, being an accountant, of course, could not keep his little fingers out of my business, thank goodness.

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Because I would have sunk a long time ago and promise you I would have,

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because I go to market and I get real caught up in what's going to sell and what do my customers need and what do we want.

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And before I know it, I have spent Baku's of money and as a family, yeah,

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it's really awesome and hard and so fantastic to go in to see all that stuff.

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And I want all of it. And before I know it, I've bought 14 cat pictures. Why do I know.

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Right. I to be right back. They also have me no more animals. I can't buy anything else with an animal on it.

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It's because they're fun. But what happens then is you get home and then they start.

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You get your inventory before you know it. Your credit card bills.

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Twenty thousand dollars and is a small business, you know, of the cash flow to cover that.

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Maybe if I were in a big city, I could do that, but not here. And so it's really about managing how many hours your employees are working.

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He's on top of that calling me and saying, you know, you don't. There's really no need to be paying overtime.

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There's really no need to be paying these extra things.

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Almost all the businesses I've seen that have failed, it's been money management because money management is not fun.

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And most of us are. Most of us who owner and business, regardless of the business, are, I would say where idea people.

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And we're. We come up with all these really great, great ideas and great plans.

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But but working the plan is harder. It's different.

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And it's not that we're not good at it.

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It's just that, like I said, it takes time away from the whole thing that we were trying to do to begin with.

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And so before we know it, it's already gone that it's too late.

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I guess that's what I'm trying to say to fix it.

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And so, so many go out because maybe they're buying products that are too expensive when there is a cheaper,

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you know, alternative or whatever it may be. I would say money management is the hardest.

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It's the hardest for me. It's the hardest for him. He spends a lot of time trying to manage my money.

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I'm right brained all the way. I mean, there is no order at all.

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And so bless his heart, he's trying to chase after me. But I think that's the weight is of a lot of us.

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It sounds like teamwork is the success of your small business.

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But it is. It sounds like you are the creativity. And he's a little bit of the organization.

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He's all of the organization. You've got to have both to make it work.

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That's true with who you hire in all aspects of my baker is my partner in every sense of the word because in a small town I

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read that little meem the other day that said and I don't want to use the name because I don't want to give them a bad rap.

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But we'll just say a food chain.

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You'll go to a fast food restaurant and they'll mess up your order a thousand times and you'll still go back tomorrow.

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But if a small best business messes up your order, you'll never go back again.

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And you'll you'll Bash them and you'll talk bad about them on Facebook and you'll tell their momma in town,

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in the grocery store your daughter don't know what she's doing. I mean, things like that.

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But for for this, you know, you have to be on top of your game.

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So hire people that love your business as much as you do.

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Yes.

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We've actually talked to a restaurant owner who was kidding or not, but he said that he's got to have his brisket prepared the same way every day.

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Otherwise, it spreads all over town. But yes, he does bad at the restaurant and going to go over there.

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He's not wise. All Dad. Stop eating at his restaurant. He's looking across the street, his dad that the competitor place.

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But all because that small town. Yes, that great vine will run.

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But it can also run. Well, it does. You have a great product. And then everyone runs and tells the whole town how great it was.

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It could be a positive thing. That's exactly that's exactly the truth. I don't ever want people to be scared of owning in a small town.

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It is the best, it's the most rewarding thing you'll ever do because your customers know you.

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They come in. You know them. You know what their grandmother likes.

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You can get them the perfect gift. They can't find help like that in a large city. So don't be scared of it.

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Just be aware of what you need. And find people who you can work with.

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If you're gonna be there all hours of the night together to so you know, you need to like each other.

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And it's hard. That's another hard thing.

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Well, is there anything else she would like, other small business owners or entrepreneurs with a dream to know?

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Before we wrap up today? They'll be afraid to take a risk.

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The hardest part of owning a small business is jumping in. You don't always have the best insurance and you don't always have the biggest paycheck.

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But there's other rewards and you just have to take that risk and go with your gut.

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Like I said earlier, just do it. You know, Nike knew what they were talking about when they coined that phrase.

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They did. I love it. Well, we appreciate your time so much.

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Thank you. And a shout out to your husband, even though he's not officially on the Amelia's team, he totally is Right.

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Love it. Well, we appreciate you so much. With a million more. And that is going to wrap up another episode of the Create Riches podcast series.

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Arkansas Small Business, Big Rural Impact. This has been ready set grow. Im Murriel Wiley

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For more information about this or any Create Bridges podcast or more about Create Bridges in Arkansas,

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visit uaex.edu/create bridges, create bridges, small business,

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big rural impact podcast is made possible by a Wal-Mart grant to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture,

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Cooperative Extension Community Professional and Economic Development Unit and White River Now Productions.