Helen’s Florist celebrating milestone

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Family owned businesses are the heartbeat of any community and this year a local florist is celebrating a milestone.

Helen’s Florist located at 1103 Mission Park Drive is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

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In 1968, Bobby and Mary Helen Temple purchased a floral business that was originally located at 2410 Washington St., owner Nancy Gray said.

Gray is the Temples’ youngest daughter.

Following the sale, the florist was given the name Helen’s, in honor of Gray’s grandmother, Helen Potts McMillan.

All in the family

At first, Gray said only her grandmother and mother worked at the shop, but soon after she and her siblings began helping out.

“Starting out at about 6-years-old, I remember my sister Gennie, and brother, Tim and I would dress in bunny costumes and help deliver Easter arrangements,” Gray said.

The family camaraderie of working together at the flower shop has now continued on with Gray’s daughters.

“I can remember my girls standing on stools to reach the counters to ‘arrange,’” Gray said.

“And now standing back and watching them create and learn the business, it’s hard to believe the fourth generation is following tips my mother and grandmother taught me,” she said.

Although it has mainly been the women of the family that have served as the flower shop’s designers, Gray said all of the family members have made deliveries, done janitorial work, processed flowers and set up and torn down events.

“Grandmother, mama, me, my sisters and my daughters, Mary Kaylin and Brittney design, while my dad and husband, Wendell, have helped with mechanics, heavy lifting and making sure candles are straight.”

In owning the florist, Gray said her family has been allowed the opportunity to share in the joys, including births, weddings, parties, and “just because,” as well as in times of grief.

Nevertheless, whether it is a joyous or a sad occasion, Gray said, “It is a privilege to share the happy events, as well as offer comfort during the hard times.”

While working at a florist can have its perks — like being around fresh flowers daily — Gray said there are some challenges.

“Fresh flowers are a perishable product,” Gray said. “Our wholesalers are in Jackson or further and sometimes it is impossible to have the flowers requested and can frustrate our customers and us. We try very hard to please our customers, but sometimes we can’t get the flowers they want.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Helen’s Florist, an open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, at 1103 Mission Park Drive.

The event will include free samples, door prizes and refreshments.

“We are truly blessed to be the third and fourth generation working here,” Gray said. “Wendell and I are so very grateful to our customers for allowing us to serve them over the past 50 years, and we look forward to many more. We are proud to be in Vicksburg.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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