Thirty-five years ago, with two kids at home, and needing a job, Lou Lynne Moss walked out on a limb, so to speak. She had grown up on a farm, and had never had a job, other than as a part time clerk at Dillons while in high school. Pratt already had three florists, but none catering to a younger clientele.
In October of 1977, she opened The Flower Shoppe at the corner of First and Main streets in Pratt, with hairdresser Jody Zink as a partner. The limb she stepped onto proved to be a strong one, and in 1982, she assumed sole proprietorship of the business and moved into the former home of Paul Garst on East Fourth Street. In 2001, she moved next door to the former Larrison Mortuary.
She had a flair for design, first learned creating crafts with her mother and selling at the shows that were a part of small town Kansas. She honed her skills by traveling throughout the country to learn from floral designers and educators. That is still the primary method by which a florist learns her trade — Kansas State University had a two-year floriculture program, but it closed in the late 1980s, and most formal programs are geared more to growing flowers than arranging them.
For at least 25 years, Moss has been one of the designers and educators teaching others to create unique and progressive floral designs.
The industry has evolved over the years. The type of full service — baby showers to funerals and all the life and public events in between — that she offers, is found only in small towns. In larger areas, florists specialize.
In 1977, she had about five flowers to work with; now she has access to hundreds of varieties. That doesn't mean she has lots of flowers on hand; even wholesalers in Wichita limit their stock.
Someone who walks into her shop with a request for white roses for Grandma's birthday tomorrow is going to be disappointed. With a couple of days notice, however, she can get what is wanted, either by buying direct from importers online, or from a wholesaler.
Florists advertise their services and designs on websites and through social media. Moss said she has worked with brides-to-be who contacted her online, corresponded by email for months and only met face-to-face a week before the wedding.
One thing hasn't changed: weekends and holidays, when most people are enjoying family time or vacations, are her busiest times. Vacations consist of going to a floral convention to learn more.
Moss was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Design in 1982 and served in every chair on the national board and as president in 2001. She was president of the Kansas State Florist Association and wrote the state newsletter for several years. She also served as chairman of the AIFD education committee and co-authored a book, "The AIFD Guide to Floral Design."
Page 2 of 2 - She was asked to be a part of the design team for the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2001. The florists worked entirely behind the scenes, in warehouses with minimal heat. It was hard work, climbing ladders, hanging flowers off the chandeliers — not a job for the weak, Moss emphasized. They did their work in the middle of the night and left town before the inauguration began.
Over the years, she estimates she has employed more than 50 students, and appreciated the support of her twin sons, Jeff and Darin Bolen, although she said flowers were never their number one priority.