From a bucket to storefronts, Strelitzia Flower Company continues to be Yolo County’s favorite flower shop.
Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) awarded the Strelitzia Flower Company last Tuesday as the Fifth Senate District’s Small Business of the Year. The ceremony was held in Sacramento celebrating California Small Business Day.
Wolk delivered the award to Dean and Janice Labadie, a husband and wife team who own and manage flower shops in Davis and Woodland.
“The Labadies’ commitment to customer service and this community is the gold standard,” Wolk said, in a press release. “Their story illustrates the important role small businesses have in our communities.”
Nearly 40 years after its inception as a bucket stand in downtown Davis, the Strelitzia Flower Company continues to serve Yolo County residents. Dean began selling flowers on Third Street in 1971 as a graduate student in the UC Davis horticulture department. Every Wednesday, Dean purchased flowers from the flower market in San Francisco and sold the flowers on the sidewalk.
Dean then sold flowers on F Street, until switching to a permanent shop in University Mall for 25 years. Dean then ran a shop at 238 G St. in downtown Davis for 10 more years. The Davis Strelitzia Flower shop is now located on 4614 2nd St., near Target.
Dean and Janice said they strive to provide customers with the freshest flowers at the highest quality by purchasing flowers directly from growers. Every Monday, Janice buys flowers from various locations in Northern California including San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Salinas, among others. She makes 15 flower stops over a two-day period.
“Customer service is critical,” Janice said.
In an effort to lower prices, Strelitzia Flower Company began offering a wholesale discount. Customers may purchase wholesale flowers from $4.75 and up, $10-$12 per bouquet and $12.99 per rose bucket.
“It doesn’t cost more to buy locally,” Janice said.
The Labadies donate an average of $22,000 worth of product locally. For example, the company gives Davis and Woodland convalescent home residents corsages and boutonnieres on their birthdays. Dean said he began this donation after he noticed neglected residents in convalescent homes.
Giving back to the community is an integral part of their business. A commitment to community service distinguishes small businesses from big businesses, Dean said.
Dean and Janice are active in the Davis community. Dean is assistant director governor of the Rotary Club of Davis. Janice was recently elected district governor Soroptimist International of Davis. They have both served on the Davis Farmers Market board and have helped facilitate the music series at the E Street Plaza and Picnic in the Park.
Everyone can make the community stronger by giving time and giving back, Janice said.
Although the Strelitzia Flower Company’s business dropped by a third in two years, their ability to adapt kept them in business, Dean said.
“Everybody pulled together,” Janice said. “Employees worked harder and shared shifts.”
People’s attitudes in a bad economy were reflected in their business on a daily basis. The news determined whether people would buy flowers, Janice said.
Despite the recent economic downturn, Dean and Janice said business is getting back up to speed. They began hiring again last month.
People need flowers because they add joy to life, Dean said.
THERESA MONGELLUZZO can be reached at email@example.com.