Shelley’s Flowers and Gifts owner Shelley Pease, who celebrates 40 years in business this year, has won national and state awards for her work but is firmly a part of Waldoboro. She said the last four decades have brought big changes to her business and the town, and throughout all of them she has continued educating herself.
“I grew with the business, it grew with me, and we grew with the town,” said Pease, who opened her first shop when she was 20 years old.
A weeklong anniversary celebration beginning Monday, March 6 will feature cake pops from Katie’s Kakes in Waldoboro, hot cocoa, daffodils for $4 a bunch, free T-shirts, and special flower arrangements.
At her current location at 1738 Atlantic Highway, Pease offers pre-made arrangements, gift items, and local delivery in Knox, Lincoln, and Waldo counties, with a specialization in wedding arrangements.
Throughout her 40 years in business, Pease said she has learned that “You gotta go with the flow. A business, to be successful, has to grow with the times.”
When she started out in 1983, flowers and plants were only available from shops like hers. They weren’t for sale at the grocery or hardware store.
Orders were made by wire service and delivery directions given by phone for houses without addresses.
These days, orders come in online, floral consultations are done in virtual meetings, and information can be shared on social media.
“Technology makes my life a lot easier,” Pease said.
Waldoboro was much different, too. When she opened her doors, the Osram Sylvania plant, the Paragon Button Factory, the Medomak Canning Co., and the Fieldstone Manor nursing home were still open, all to close by the mid-2000s.
In recent years, she said she has seen a resurgence in town along with new local businesses.
Though other industries have come and gone, like the fish markets and butcher shops that disappeared for a time and are now opening again, “there will always be a place for a florist,” Pease said. “I don’t think we’ll go anywhere.”
Online services have increased competition, but she said the personal experience she can offer is important to customers.
Throughout the years, she said she has listened to what they want and continued educating herself. Lately, people like locally grown flowers, so she grows some of her own at the shop. Houseplants are also popular these days, and she keeps them in stock.
For both customers and florists, the internet has increased exposure to “what’s out there,” she said. “Customers are more educated because they can be.”
The industry has changed in recent years, too, especially since the pandemic. There are fewer brick-and-mortar stores and more freelancers or side jobs.
However, “the floral industry has always been known for fellowship and being generous,” Pease said, and it remains that way.
She used to travel to conferences, seminars, and workshops across the region with a group of Maine florists who have since retired. Now, her industry circle is larger but less tightly connected.
Day-to-day, Pease works with three core employees and several part-timers, alongside seasonal and holiday teams. In her early years she worked alongside her mother, who volunteered help before Pease was making enough to pay her. They learned together, attending seminars and workshops.
“I feel very grateful, lucky, fortunate,” Pease said. “I’ve got the dream team.”
Asked about favorite memories of the last four decades, Pease said, “I could write a book. I could write an encyclopedia.”
Her business remained open through the pandemic because it is licensed as an agricultural business and did deliveries; she stayed busy as people sent flowers to friends and family members they couldn’t see in person.
The next few years look busy, too, as weddings take place again. Pease said 2022 was a banner year for weddings, and she is already booked into 2024. She can have up to eight weddings a weekend, though not all of them large ones. She consults with couples based on what they like and what is available.
Over the years, she said she has kept her work interesting by educating herself, meeting with other professionals, and talking with friends and mentors in the industry.
“I have always been involved in the community, and the community supported me,” Pease said.
Shelley’s Flowers and Gifts at 1738 Atlantic Highway is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information or to order, go to shelleysflowers.com.