The Flower Shoppe is celebrating 40 years in Pratt with an open house Nov. 19.

The gift of flowers has been used for expressing a host of emotions down through the generations.

Lou Lynn Moss, owner of the Flower Shoppe, is celebrating 40 years as a florist and serving the needs of the community whether it's a bouquet for Mother's Day, that special corsage for prom, a sentimental tribute to a departed loved one or just a flower that says "I love you" for Valentine's day.

Moss' brightly decorated shop at 201 East Fourth will be open for anniversary visitors from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Moss loves her job because she never knows what she is going to do in the morning. She likes the emotional roller coaster where one customer wants to by flowers for his wife after becoming parents then having to help a grieving person pick out flowers for a deceased loved one. Moss is helping third generations in some families.

Moss has provided four decades of floral creations in Pratt and it all started with a part time job in someone else's flower shop. Moss was looking for a job after the birth of her twin sons and took a part time job with Bruce and Carol Farmer who had purchased Adams Flower shop. Moss enjoyed the job so much, she decided this was what she wanted to do for a living.

"I knew I liked the business but I didn't know anything about it," Moss said.

She took out a loan and in 1977 she started her own shop at 106 South Main, the current location of Signature Style. Her mailman R. G. Howe and her uncle Harry Monaghan built the cooler and put in the shelves. They just insulated the cooler walls and used a regular door.

Shauna Horn and Stacy Hanson were her first delivery people and Moss' cousin LuJean Hartwell became her first full time employee. Over the past 40 years, 56 people have worked for Moss and she keeps their names on a list the features lots of locals.

Moss' hair dresser Jody Zink helped her find her building and was a silent advisor. They went to work even though Moss had little experience and had much to learn about the business she was determined to make her new business a success and got busy learning the floral industry.

She went to a warehouse in Wichita and bought the bare minimum to get the business going. Her first big event was Pratt Community College homecoming. She opened her doors the day of homecoming and made mum corsages for the college. It was the first of many special events she would handle in her 40 year career.

Her plan was for her location, that is right on First Street, to get noticed and bring in lots of customers.

Moss said she soon learned that she got little business from passing traffic but her local customers were the ones that made the business grow.

While her business was growing, there was a problem with the location. There was always heavy traffic and it was difficult for customers to get in and out of her parking lot so she looked for a new location and found it at a house at 209 East Fourth, a house the Larrison family owned and once belonged to Paul Garst. In 1980 she moved into the house on a day when it was 12 below zero. The house's radiators clanked and rattled but it doubled her space and she took advantage of all levels to expand her selection and provide more floral options.

The downstairs become a display room, a bedroom was transformed into a cooler, living and dining room were show rooms, the kitchen was a work room and the basement was storage.

The house was a great location. It was across the street from the courthouse and everyone eventually comes to the courthouse. It was also next door to Larrison Mortuary and across the street from Ayres Calbeck Mortuary and there was a doctors office at the end of the block. It was also just a block off Main Street so the location brought in a lot of business.

"Business was good," Moss said. "People felt more at home coming here than they did going to the Main Street store."

Moss developed a reputation as an outstanding florist. She taught classes and became a member of the American Institute of Floral Design, eventually become its president in 2002. The AIFD is an international organization with 1,200 designers.

Moss remained the house until she had an opportunity to move to an even bigger facility. The house was across a parking lot from Larrison Mortuary which made it simple for her to deliver flowers for funerals.

Larrison's moved their funeral home to a new location on Country Club Road and sold the former funeral home to Moss in 2001, a move that tripled her space.

The moved proved even more beneficial to her because she was able to sell the house where she lived and moved into the apartment upstairs at the funeral home where she could answer the phone and take orders. The savings also allowed her to keep her family farm.

Moss keeps the flower shop decorated at all times but Christmas is special. She and other floral designers work together to create a visual treat for the eyes. A lot of the people she knows are the people who design the floral products so the Flower Shoppe is indeed a sight to behold.

Moss has had many experiences helping people say it with flowers. But her biggest experience was getting to help design floral arrangements for a dozen pre-inauguration events for President George Herbert Walker Bush's inauguration in January 2001. She worked with a team of florists, she was the only one from Kansas, who designed and set up the displays across Washington. The armory where they put the flower designs together was very cold and she had to work in a hat and gloves.

She had to pass a Secret Service background check. When a display was finished, they couldn't go back and change anything because the Secret Service would sweep the room and no one was allowed back in after the sweep.

Moss is a firm believer in "Bloom where you are planted" which is a very appropriate philosophy for a florist. She could move to a bigger city but Pratt is home and she enjoys the fact that she knows her customers. She believes the saying that flowers can say something when words can't.

Moss' skill has earned her several honors; Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award 2002-2003, recognized at the regional level by Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, an educational specialist for A.F.S. and Teleflora wire services 1980 -2010, work for the California Growers Association, present design workshops for florists and garden clubs in the United States and Canada, Pratt Community College Executive in Residence 2014.

Moss is a 1968 graduate of Skyline High School. She attended Wichita State University for three years as a music major. She has twin sons Darin and Jeff Bolen. Jeff's wife Rayna has been Moss' designer for 17 years.

@GaleR_Tribune