There’s quite a bit of work behind the scenes to make a display of flowers that helps mark occasions both happy and sad, but HeartfieldFlorist is well up to the task. The business can be fast-paced and unpredictable, said Sicily Bennett, daughter of owners Danny and Cindy Pierce and co-manager of the store. The location, at 1525 SamHouston Ave. in Huntsville, has been home to the shop since 1957, although, Sicily said, another location was opened on 15th Street near a funeral home, but that has been closed for years.
“A funny story on the creation of the business; my dad, Danny Pierce, was married into the Heartfield family, and his first wife, Patsy, started the business,” she said. “In 1966, the Heartfields wanted to get out of the business, so Dad and his wife bought it. They later divorced, and he married my mom Cindy, who had come to work at the shop, but he kept the name.” Nowadays, she and her sister KrystalHill operate the business, which consists of four to five designers and two to three delivery drivers. Of course, staffing goes up around the holidays, particularly Valentine’s Day.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about the flower business,”
she said. “The funniest thing I think is people thinking it must be wonderful
to play with flowers all day, which it is; every day is different, and we see all kinds of different flowers, and every day is unique.
“It’s a very demanding business —mainly when you’re dealing with funerals, things like sudden events that you have to shoot from the hip to deal with,”
she said. “You may find out about a funeral one day, and it has to be done next. You’ve got to get product in, get it designed, so it’s very unpredictable. You never know what will happen until you come in that day; the phone can ring at 8 a.m. and can change the whole tone for the entire day, or even the week. Last week, we had six funerals within two days, and you may find out about all of those in a two-hour period.”
The business will deliver items throughout Walker County. Surprisingly, though, Valentine’s Day, which many believe to be the biggest floral season, actually isn’t; it’s Christmas.
“The busiest season, as a whole, is probably going to be the month of December — the Christmas season — because it’s an entire monthlong,” Bennett said. “You have Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and you have very specific pinpointed holidays that only last three to five days at a time. In the Christmas season, we’re busy from the second week of November through the end of December, not only for instore stuff but with decorating jobs as well.”
The plants are as fresh as possible; Bennett said that anything that goes out of the shop typically has been there less than 24 hours, and they receive shipments daily to ensure quality.
More than just flowers.
Heartfield offers everything floral, from birthdays to get-well arrangements — and according to Bennett, lots of sympathy work, as in for funerals. “I think it’s because Huntsville, despite the fact that it’s growing, is a very close-knit community, and everybody sends flowers for funerals,” she said. “Last week, we had a funeral for Charlie Rushing, who was a business owner in town, and it was three times the size of a typical large funeral.”
Additionally, they do lots of weddings, both in town and out of town, as well as numerous events for Sam Houston State University in Huntsville and even in Willis. “Being in close proximity to the university helps, but we deal with all the different departments on campus, and we do events that require 10-15 centerpieces up to some that require90-100 at one time,” she said.
They also deliver all around the area; Bennett said they are a member of FTD and Teleflora, which are wire services that allow Heartfield to connect with other shops in other towns, and to transfer orders all over the country as well as receive them.
Consultation also is done for homes and businesses, for both real and artificial plant schemes, and the staff will meet with families at funeral homes to consult on items needed for a service.“There’s not a lot of stuff we won’t do,” she said. One of the biggest offerings is home decorating, particularly at Christmas. “It’s evolved quite a bit,” she said. “It started out with a couple of elderly ladies that weren’t able to put up Christmas decorations, due to family out-of-town that weren’t able to help. So, we would go into their homes and decorate it with the decorations they had. Now we go as far as Houston to decorating jobs.”
Heartfield will do the decorating from coming into the home and setting up what a customer has to purchase decorations based on a theme and coming in with all new items — both inside and outside, although Bennett said they’re not a light-hanging business. Their decorations even include First National Bank in Huntsville. “We set up shop there for an entire weekend and transform their lobby,” Bennett said. “They get three fresh 15-foot trees; we hang stuff from the ceiling — totally decorate it.”
That’s not just for Christmas; Bennett said that they will help with special events as well.“A customer had planned a proposal; we actually went and decorated the yard,” she said. “We cut out oversized candy hearts, did flowers and balloons all over the house,” she said. “We’ll do pretty much anything.”
A new event the shop picked up is with MSCOPAS at Texas A&M University in CollegeStation, doing the decorations for the theater and a 90-table event for the theater group’s annual gala.
Alongside flowers, Heartfield offers gifts, from stuffed animals to unusual containers to gifts to balloons. “We’re trying to increase our balloon business because Wally’s has recently closed, which was a big balloon dealer,” she said. “We’re increasing our stock; they’re used for birthdays or school events, anniversaries, things like that.”
The personal touch.
Quality is key, and Heartfield makes sure that everything they do is top-notch, setting themselves apart from stores offering premade arrangements. “We offer a personal touch,” Bennett said. “Our main thing is customer service.”