Tipton & Hurst Celebrates 125 Years of Flowers and More

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

For example, Tipton & Hurst doesn't actually grow anything itself anymore, but instead purchases its merchandise directly from other growers all over the world. "We buy flowers from South America, from Holland," Hurst said. "We get plants from Canada; we get plants from the West Coast."

The company has also expanded its services to include much more than just flowers. "Half of our business is flowers; the other half is gifts and accessories and a lot of seasonal items," Hurst said. "Our daily business is 100 to 150 deliveries a day, in terms of just daily deliveries, like roses for your birthday. That's kind of just our regular business."

Events, too, are a big part of what the company does, which helps set it apart from other florists. "Most florists are pretty much just flowers and plants and just do a little bit of that other stuff," Hurst said. "We've always done that. My grandmother did that in the '20s."

Parties and weddings remain a big part of the company's business today. "That's another part that we do a lot of. We do a lot of events and have for years," Hurst said.

'Always Appropriate'

"Flowers are a very comforting thing and that's what we do," Hurst said. "Flowers are always appropriate. There's no size; there's no wrong color. I think that's why flowers have been given for all these things for thousands of years. This is not going away."

Hurst, however, acknowledges that despite the continued popularity of flowers as gifts and in decorating, business is conducted differently than in the past. "One of the big things is, the flower industry used to be one of the only industries where you could actually have same-day delivery," Hurst said. That, he recognizes, isn't necessarily true anymore.

And, he said, "The Internet is probably what's changed our business the most."

Tipton & Hurst does offer something that not all Internet businesses can, though, in terms of its expertise and customer service. "A lot of our people have been with us a long time," Hurst said. And because deliveries continue to be a sizable part of the business, providing excellent customer service is important. "There's just not as many people that put out the kind of service that we do," Hurst said. "So many retailers are national retailers and they do don't anything."

By contrast, Tipton & Hurst continues to prove its dedication to its customers and its community. The company makes it a practice to donate goods to community events. "I'm very big on buying local," Hurst said. In the past year, the company has donated $50,000 worth of goods locally, he said.

The company has a presence in the community in other ways. "We're a member of the Chamber of Commerce," Hurst said. "My wife is on the city board of Little Rock. My dad was on the city board of Little Rock. My great-great-grandfather was mayor in 1860. We've been around for a long time, so we're very much a member of the community."

That doesn't seem likely to change. Hurst has led the company through the recession to become more modern and more accessible to its customers. "In the last two years, during the recession, we remodeled our store in the Heights. In the depths of the recession, we redid that completely, which was a big deal." The company also built a new store for its Conway location.



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