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a place to blossom
Story by Shaila Creekmore; photography by Amy Long

For three decades, Bridgette Arnold has delivered happiness and comfort across Northeast Arkansas through her business, Posey Peddler Flowers and Emporium.

Opened in 1978, Arnold purchased the flower shop in 1984 from Carolyn Calvert. In the store’s first six years, it had moved from Downtown Jonesboro to Market Place shopping center and later to Highland Drive near the former Indian Mall where it was located when Arnold bought the business. In 1988, Arnold
moved the shop to its current location, a unique, flatiron building on Southwest Drive, where it has continued to blossom. Five years ago, the shop expanded into a second building located next door to offer rental items for weddings, events and photography.

“This (space) has allowed us to create the entire event from beginning to end,” said Arnold. “In 2015, I am recreating our wedding and event showroom into Posey Peddler Prop House. We will be renting props and event items; I want to rent unique items. It will be a fun change.”

Arnold has expanded the product lines and services offered by Posey Peddler over the years, but the store’s main service remains flowers and floral design.

“We are a design studio and we create all kinds of things. If you need something, we love to figure it out,” she said. “Fresh flowers are our passion and we go through many extra steps to bring Jonesboro the freshest, best and most long-lasting product. Fresh flowers make people happy and more creative and they are natural products. Stop by our store and see our beautiful flowers,
interesting emporium gifts and meet our great people.”

Jonesboro Occasions recently visited with Arnold, who marked her 30-year anniversary as owner of Posey Peddler Flowers and Emporium this year.

The Posey Pedler building is a unique landmark on Southwest Drive, what do you know about its history? It was built in 1937 as an apartment building. There are several interesting stories about why it was a flatiron shape. Brothers and sisters had inherited the land and the “black sheep” got the middle triangle – that is one version – I don’t know if that is true. I was also told that German WW2 POWs were interviewed in the basement. In the ‘70s, the showroom part was added to the building. The building has cypress beams from the Cache river, extra long red bricks overlaying concrete blocks, original yellow pine floors and lots of nooks, stairwells and trapdoors. It has a full basement. It has been a bike shop and a microfilm business. When I bought the building, the showroom was a large safe holding microfilm. We lived above our business for 11 years.

How did you bec ome interested in the floral business? My friend worked at Posey Peddler. I really just wanted to own a business – I knew nothing about the florist business when I bought it. I was only 21 years old and I was the delivery person. As time went by, I became more intrigued and began to learn the art of business as well as the art of floral design. I had a good eye for design and my mother, Shirley Mills, loved flowers and grew many. She and I learned floral design together. I have graduated from several design schools and always take my staff to national and international design classes every year.

What challenges do you think are unique to the floral business? Unlike other retail, we create what we have sold – after we sell it. We are like a custom factory. This means we are always on time crunches, but we are used to it and probably thrive on it. Meeting the customer’s expectations – what they expect and what we can do for them – is always a challenge.

What do you enjoy about being a florist? I enjoy the creativity and beauty of the product. We take something and turn it into an expression of the customer’s feelings. I also enjoy the scientific element of plants and flowers. I educate my staff about the history and care of all our flowers. I enjoy that every single day is filled with unexpected challenges and no two days are the same. I enjoy talking to the customer – floral customers are thoughtful. It’s a joy to see people take such interest in how their purchase of flowers will make another
person feel. The floral industry has kept me optimistic; people are really more caring than we hear about on the news. Romance and love is alive and well. Thoughtfulness abounds in all areas.

What do you enjoy about owning your own business? I enjoy putting together a team of people who create something wonderful on a daily basis. I love my employees. I also like setting my own goals and hours. I like the business side as much as the creative side, it is rewarding to set goals and make plans. I plan events three to four months in advance. I have been working on Valentine’s week now and will soon start on prom planning. I’m always in the wrong holiday mentally.

What services do you offer your customers? Knowledge first and foremost, combined with experience and creativity; fresh flowers, from the bucket or custom designed; plants and plant rental services; balloon artistry with arches and sculptures; edible fruit bouquets; wedding flowers and rentals; and event flowers. I work with an event planner, also. We do many things – we can create almost anything for our customers. We make signs, art, wire sculptures. If we can’t make it, we know who can!

What gift lines do you carry? Willow tree, Woodwick, Trapp, Voluspa, Nouvelle, Library of Flowers, Capri Blue, Papyrus Cards, and American made hats, socks, scarves and jewelry. My goal is to carry 10 lines of candles. I love scented products and think scent is the most powerful of senses. We also carry many Southern-made gourmet food items and decadent chocolates. We have lots of holiday décor items…more cutting edge things and less mass-market items.

How has the floral business changed over the last 30 years? The Internet! Credit cards, computers and Federal Express have really changed the way we do business. All orders were hand written and we billed most customers. When I first began in the business, flowers were limited in choices, but now I buy from farmers all over the world on a daily basis and its here within 24 hours. The use of the credit card has replaced cash. The Internet has really made changes with non-local phone banks pretending to be florists in a local town with just pictures on the Internet.