He has owned a business in the same Marysville location for 50 years. That’s quite an accomplishment for Jim Gruett, the florist at the Stockdale/Community Market Plaza. He will be 84 years old next month and has seen a lot through the eyes of his floral business, but first, let’s look at how he got to Marysville.
In 1960 Jim came to work for O.M. Scott and Sons in the sales department. But after only about a year, his army reserve unit was called up for 10 months and when he returned he took a job managing a group of Columbus florists. That was where his experience in the floral industry began.
At the same time, he started a candle business, selling from his home. Soon it became obvious he needed a retail outlet and in 1962 Ezra Stocksdale had just built the plaza at the corner of Milford Avenue and Stocksdale Drive. This would be the perfect location.
In the beginning, it was just a Christmas shop open only a few months, selling candles and gifts. Two years later he added flowers, and now all these years later the Gruetts still run a full-time floral business.
For a long time Glenna Edgar managed his business while Jim worked elsewhere including the Transportation Research Center. During that time he also hired a lady named Sharon, who five years later became his wife. Today, Sharon runs the business. He calls her the boss. They’ve been married for 30 years.
During those 50 years in business, there have been many crazy happenings. Weddings are an important part of a florist’s business and Jim remembers he might have been a potential problem to one. He had gone to Columbus to pick up supplies for another event with the wedding flowers in his car. Stuck in traffic for some time, he finally broke free. He was now late and very nervous, but he proceeded on to the Presbyterian Church in Marysville.
This was long before the time of cell phones where he could have alerted the bride and her family about his arrival. He got there just 15 minutes before the wedding, but just in time, we can say. Even today, years later, the pastor at the time, the Rev. Jack Groat, refers to him as the late Jim Gruett.
At another wedding, the bride was getting ready to go down the aisle. She had a very long train and there were two little boys holding it. As the florists passed out the flowers, the bridal party started down the aisle. One of the little train bearers blew his nose in the train as they moved down the aisle. Oh my!
Deliveries are another very important part of a florist’s business. Jim has a staff of people who deliver, especially in busy times, but he was on duty this day. He got out of his car and headed to the door with the arrangement. Nesting near the front door was a large goose, that didn’t want him near her home and babies, so she chased him away pecking at him all the while.
Another time he took a large bouquet of Valentine roses in a vase to the door and handed it to the lady, who then dropped the vase on his foot. OK, that hurt, but the problem was the vase broke all over the place and the flowers went everywhere. All in a day’s work – he went back to the shop and got another vase and more flowers.
Sharon was also chased in another manner while delivering. She headed to the door and four dogs appeared outside after she rang the doorbell. They were snarling and showing their teeth. She was really afraid. She reached for the front door to escape and it was open, so she went in, having no idea what she might find, only knowing she had to get away. Fortunately, all she saw was just a man sleeping on the couch and was glad to be out of the reach of the dogs!
One day duvring a delivery, Jim decided to pick up his mother-in-law from an assisted living facility. He thought he would just take her out for a ride and get some fresh air. The problem was it was cold and snowy. There was some slipping and sliding and his car got stuck in a ditch with the flowers and his mother-in-law inside. The owner of the property where he was stuck in the snow, had a friend with a tractor who pulled him out. He was very nervous to have his mother-in-law out in the cold so long. Deliveries can be treacherous.
Then there were recent wacky events. Jim’s 70-year-old delivery guy witnessed at least two separate times, women coming to the door in their bra and panties. This was certainly unexpected, but the guy said it lightened up his day.
Jim also reported that more than a dozen times people have refused the flowers that were brought to them, because they didn’t like the person who purchased them. Usually Jim tried to talk them in to donating the arrangement to a nursing home or church. But sometimes he was not successful and had to take them back.
Most of the flowers at Gruetts come from South America, traveling into this country through Miami. When Jim receives them, there are often holes in the boxes as border dogs have been checking for drugs at the entry airport. One time Jim opened a box and there was a small snake inside. At other times there were strange looking spiders.
All in all it’s obviously been a good business. He has delivered more than 2 million roses over the 50 years. Red is still the most popular color and the flower business is holding its own!
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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