Today, I’m proud to unveil South Milwaukee Business Spotlight, a collaboration with the South Milwaukee Community & Business Association where we’ll spotlight local small business each month. Businesses will be chosen by the SMCBA.
This month, we profile Parkway Floral.
- Business name: Parkway Floral
- Address: 1001 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee
- Hours: Monday-Friday 8-6, Saturday 8-5, closed Sunday
- Phone number: 762-0246
- Website: parkwayfloralinc.com
- Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest … @ParkwayFloral #ParkwayFloral
- Founded: 1951
- Owners: Leah Manthey and Carly Johnson
- Number of employees: In addition to Carly & Leah serving as owners, managers, and lead floral designers, Parkway Floral employs 2 full time floral designers, 3 part time shop assistants, and 4 part time delivery drivers.
How did you get involved in the business?
Leah started working at Parkway Floral as an after school shop assistant in August of 2000. After graduating from South Milwaukee High School in 2004, she started training full time as a floral designer and bridal consultant. As she progressed towards purchasing her shares of the company, she apprenticed under Brian Lynch until she made partner in June of 2010.
Carly is 3rd generation at Parkway Floral and spent most of her childhood helping with various shop tasks to pass the time. She officially started working part time at Parkway Floral in August of 2003. Carly became a full time floral designer after graduating from South Milwaukee High School in 2005. After her apprenticeship with Bryan Lorentzen, she made her move to partner in October 2013
In addition to our natural talents as floral designers and indoor plant specialists, we both work on day to day business operations including human resources, payroll, account management, marketing, merchandising, customer service, sales, delivery management and quality control.
What sets your business apart?
Without a doubt, dating back to 1951, Parkway Floral has always taken great pride in giving back to the South Milwaukee community through various donations of fresh flowers and gift certificates for events throughout the year.
Leah also spends a majority of her personal time leading several volunteer projects in South Milwaukee. She serves as President of the South Milwaukee Community & Business Association (Chamber of Commerce), chairperson for Project ReStore (a downtown revitalization workgroup), and President of Growing South Milwaukee (a movement to build a community garden). She is a member of the Beautification Committee, organizes Evening on the Avenue, and volunteers for the Tree Lighting Celebration.
What is your business’ biggest challenge?
Running an independant floral shop in the age of online shopping is a great challenge. We find that technological advancements in the industry have diluted the value of our labor and expertise as professional florists. During some of life’s most emotional and monumental moments, online flower shoppers are being lured into sending bargain bouquets instead of consulting with a florist to preserve customary floral traditions that hold significant meanings to individual recipients.
Since the early 2000’s, we have seen and will continue to see a decrease in sales lost to large online commercial flower selling companies. These highly competitive, web based companies outsource employment, offer only imported goods, and undercut local shops on retail pricing while charging additional service fees to subsidize the loss.
On the bright side, we are not afraid of downsizing. We plan to focus our energy on sourcing high quality, local products and tending to our clients on a more personalized level. Running any small business is a delicate balancing act that becomes more natural over time and after extensive trial and error. We will continue to tailor our business plan to ensure that we hold strong throughout continued changes in both the floral industry and the downtown district.
What is your business’ biggest opportunity?
Our business’ biggest opportunity lies within an unstoppable strength that can only come from joining the people of Milwaukee Avenue together. There are still quite a few successful businesses downtown and occupants are slowly becoming aware of the huge volunteer responsibilities falling onto the shoulders of downtown stakeholders. As more large manufacturing firms leave the area, we are realizing that it is time for us to work together to advance the comprehensive downtown revitalization plan that the City of South Milwaukee had created for us as a guide to achieve a brighter future through ongoing teamwork. Long term collective efforts towards downtown revitalization will be needed to lift the entire community and generate reliable walk up revenue for all of us.
What are your growth plans?
We plan to spend the next few years investing as much as we can into our building on the corner of 10th and Milwaukee Avenue. This year, we will be working on exterior maintenance projects including cornice and trim work. We also have some very exciting large scale renovations in mind for the future but, for now, we plan to keep things modest and look forward to saving up for the more luxurious items on our wishlist.
Why should others consider doing business in South Milwaukee?
A vast amount of South Milwaukee businesses take great pride in giving back to as many community events as we can throughout the year. We can only hope that these gestures are being seen as both an asset to the events, and as a symbol of each business owner’s ongoing commitment to community betterment.
If you could change one thing about South Milwaukee, what would it be?
We are optimistic that our downtown will once again become a thriving economic hub. However, several rundown buildings owned by disengaged property owners are setting extremely low standards for the neighborhood. We would love to see all of the dilapidated buildings on Milwaukee Avenue cleaned out, fixed up, and on the market to be rented to legitimate commercial tenants.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you or your business?
If you call before 11:00am we will hand make a fresh floral gift and deliver it anywhere in Milwaukee county, parts of Racine, Waukesha, Pewaukee, or Mequon before 4:00pm.