Tipton & Hurst Celebrates 125 Years of Flowers and More

by Joanna Kauffmann  on Monday, Jul. 11, 2011 12:00 am  

For Howard Hurst, flowers have meant more to his family than just business. They also have played a role in the growth of that family, bringing together grandparents and parents.

Hurst's grandfather, Joseph B. Hurst, was one half of the partnership that started Tipton & Hurst, the Arkansas floral company, in 1886. Howard Hurst's grandparents met when his grandmother was working as a designer in the store. His parents met when his father, also Joseph B. Hurst, prepared the flowers for his mother's debutant ball in Little Rock.

Hurst himself is the current president of Tipton & Hurst, which is tied with 12 other companies for No. 87 on Arkansas Business list of the state's oldest companies. (For a list of Arkansas' oldest companies, click here. A spreadsheet version is also available.)

This year, Tipton & Hurst is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and as Hurst, who has been president for the past 25 years, made clear, the company has come a long way in that time.

In 1886, Hurst said, his grandfather was working on the railroads and living in Buena Vista, Colo. After meeting David Tipton, who lived in Little Rock, the two men signed a contract for a business deal. The arrangement was for Joseph B. Hurst to send Tipton "a dollar a week to help him finance a greenhouse. The Tiptons were the growers and they built the greenhouses," Hurst said.

From Colorado, Joseph B. Hurst would send money back to Tipton, working in Little Rock. "He was working out there, sending the money," Hurst said. "And then basically once they started the business, he moved to Little Rock and opened up a retail store. And he ran the retail florists. The Hursts have always run the retail florists, and they [the Tiptons] were the growers running the greenhouses."

Although Tipton & Hurst doesn't have greenhouses anymore, at one point the company had almost 50,000 SF of greenhouse space.

Eventually, the Hursts completely took over the company's operations. In the fall of 1945, after returning to Little Rock at the end of World War II, Hurst's father took over the store following his mother's death. He began overseeing the retail florists. About five years later, Hurst's father bought out the Tipton family completely and ran the company until Howard Hurst bought it from him in 1986.

Largest Independent Florist

Today, Tipton & Hurst is the largest independent florist in Arkansas, with about 50 employees in four retail locations. The company's main store is located in Little Rock's Heights neighborhood, on Cantrell Road, where it has been since 1967, when it moved from a Main Street location. Tipton & Hurst also has a North Little Rock location, which has been there since 1951, and it has had a store inside Baptist Medical Center, in both its previous and current locations, for about 60 years. Its most recent location is in Conway, where it has operated a store for the past 13 years.

Tipton & Hurst owns all its properties, which, in addition to its four stores, includes a 26,000-SF warehouse near Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

As the company has grown, it has changed.



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