History Rooted in Love: Florist prepares for busy Valentine’s Day

Every February, the coolers at Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens in Montgomery are packed full of beautiful, fresh blooms, including nearly 3,000 red roses.

Rosemont Gardens Manager Jerry Thrash, a third-generation employee of the business, poses with the store’s signature red roses. Some 3,000 of the Valentine’s Day favorites will go out the doors in February.

“Valentine’s Day is definitely a rose holiday,” says Manager Jerry Thrash. “We always run out of red roses.”

While Valentine’s Day is the third largest annual holiday for Rosemont Gardens, behind Mother’s Day and Christmas, respectively, it is arguably the busiest one-day event of the year for the Montgomery florist.

“It’s a big holiday for us because it’s crammed into one day. Other holidays, even Mother’s Day, stretch over a weekend or week, but Valentine’s Day is specifically one day. It’s very strenuous, but it’s also a very big moneymaker for us,” added Jerry.

Jerry says the shop is especially busy on years that Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the work week, as it does this year.

“Women love getting flowers at work, and men love sending their wives or girlfriends flowers at work,” explained Jerry. “We have a lot of walk-in customers on these holidays that we don’t normally have. It’s always fun to see the guys picking out flowers for the first time.”

Spending Predictions
The flower power is expected to be strong throughout the country this year. Retail experts predict Americans will spend a near-record $19.6 billion dollars, with individual consumers spending an average of $143.56 on Valentine’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation, this year’s numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016. NRF expects 55 percent of the population to celebrate this year.

Of those celebrating Valentine’s Day, 36 percent will purchase flowers, 19 percent plan to buy jewelry, and 35 percent will splurge on an evening out. The rest will pick up gifts of clothing, gift cards/gift certificates, greeting cards or candy.

Back at Rosemont Gardens, Jerry says the heartfelt holiday has always been one of his favorites, as he gets to help customers show loved ones how much they care.

More Than Florals, But Flowers Key
Specializing in flowers and home décor, Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens also carries handbags, jewelry and a wide range of gift items. But the flowers are what it’s best known for, says Jerry.

“When you get your flowers from Rosemont, you know they’re from Rosemont. That quality is what we’re known for.”

Rosemont Gardens creates and delivers arrangements for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Many businesses and individuals in and around Montgomery hire Jerry and others at the shop to decorate their homes and offices for the holidays and other special events.

The florist and shop has been part of the Montgomery community since 1892, making it one of the area’s oldest continually operating retailers. In November 2017, the business celebrated its 125th anniversary with a weekend celebration.

Jerry, whose mother and grandmother were also employees of the store, says he enjoys sharing Rosemont Gardens’ history with members of the community, especially during the shop’s recent milestone anniversary. Being the third generation in his family to work at Rosemont, he is regularly invited to speak on the subject to local garden clubs and other groups.

Company founders “William Burns Patterson and his wife, Maggie, were immigrants from Tullibody, Scotland,” he said. “They had a yearning to teach the uneducated. They came South, and after living in Mississippi and West Alabama for a short time, they landed in Montgomery. You should also know the family was instrumental in founding Alabama State University. Tullibody Hall, on campus, is named for their hometown.”

“When you get your flowers from Rosemont, you know they’re from Rosemont,” says Manager Jerry Thrash.

Rosemont Gardens has changed locations several times during its 125-year history. Jerry said it was once located near 100-year-old Chris’ Hot Dogs on Dexter Avenue, just down from the Alabama Capitol.

“The other location people remember was on Perry Street, which had big windows they used to decorate. Since 1966, we have been at the current location on Rosemont Place in Montgomery.”

On the heels of a huge anniversary year, Jerry believes the store’s legacy will carry it forward for many years to come.

“The Rosemont experience is something that anybody from Montgomery can tell you about. From the conception in 1892 until today, it has such a rich history. When you pair that with the camaraderie of all the people who work here and have worked here, it’s just a great place.”

Shop Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens at 2210 Rosemont Place in Montgomery from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Monday through Saturday.
Visit online at capitolsrosemont.com

Story and Photos by Melissa Johnson Warnke

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 2018 edition of the Alabama Retailer magazine.