Canby business still 'flowering' nicely at 70
By Merari Calderon Ruiz
For the Canby Herald
Whether it's attending a graduation, having a wedding or even going to a funeral, flowers always add something special to any event.
For 70 years now, Hulbert's Flowers has shared more than just flowers with the Canby community. This shop has undergone several changes, but has managed to stay in the same location along Highway 99E from the beginning.
In 1947, Ralph and Mildred Hulbert purchased the building from Lydia Marx and her uncle and aunt, Pete and Anna, for $16,900. In the beginning, all the work was done in the basement, so they would have to go up and down the stairs constantly, especially since the only phone was on the first floor. To make it a little easier, some remodeling was done before the family moved in. What used to be Lydia's flower shop became the Hulbert family's living room. Hulbert also added a shop on the side and two greenhouses. He spent a lot of time working in the greenhouses, while his wife was mostly in charge of the shop.
There was one other employee at the time, 22-year-old Ron Beattie. He became their lead designer and ended up working there his whole life.
In 1972, when Ralph and Mildred Hulbert divorced, Ralph continued with the business. Later, in 1980, he sold it to Curt and Nola (Hulbert) Hovland, who are the current owners of the flower shop. Since then, the shop has undergone more remodeling and upgrades, like adding more coolers and having an online presence. Hulberts' granddaughter Jill Peters, who began as the delivery person in 1980, has been the manager of the store for six years now.
They have served the community from generation to generation.
"I could name people where we've done their prom flowers, wedding flowers, right up to funeral flowers," said Peters. "We've been a part of the community that long."
Scott Gustafson, from Progressive's Gustafson Insurance Agency in Canby, has done business with Hulbert's Flowers for more than 40 years. "They're locally owned and operated, which we feel gives what they do, on our behalf, a personal touch," said Gustafson.
Buying flowers was much simpler back then. People were able to walk right in and buy what they wanted, or they just called on the phone. Also, they had thousands of flower shops' information in what seemed like a giant phone book. So, if someone needed flowers to go out of town, they could call the closest flower shop and give them the necessary information. It took a little time, but it was simple. Now, you can find flowers anywhere, from shopping online to regular stores. According to Peters, the floral industry has changed dramatically, especially with the web-based floral businesses. Even with the competition, florists are good at adapting.
"We're celebrating our 70th anniversary in the same spot, and I think to be in this place for all those years, it's a service to the community," said Peters. "When people call up at the last minute and say 'I forgot her birthday can you take something over right away,' we do it and that makes us feel good. You can't go down to Fred Meyers and have something delivered at the last minute, or the other places that have flowers, but they don't really deliver. For me, that's the most rewarding. I feel like we're a part of the community that needs to be here."
Hulberts' daughter, Bonnie Hulbert Hansen, grew up in the shop and worked there for 33 years. She retired from being a florist for a while, but she came back and now works one day a week.
"I go to a lot of school functions, graduations and reunions, and every time somebody says 'When I come into Canby for any reason and I see the Hulbert's Flower sign, I know I'm home,'" said Hansen.
For now, their goal is to just keep growing the business and for those new people that drive by the shop every day, to get them to walk in.
According to Peters, Hulbert's Flowers has something unique which is customer service and quality of flower. They constantly go to Portland to get fresh flowers. Also, part of their success is the hard work they put in, the support of the community, and having loyal customers and employees. It's a family business and even the employees become family.
The other part-time employees include, Summer Dell, Dusty Hanson, Kathy Hass, Deb Lucht, Tammie Dickson and Mary Montero, and most of them come from out of town.
"(Jill) trained me on everything that I know now, still learning, but it's the most fun job I've ever had," said Dickson. "I love the people that work here, I've made some really good friends and I'm hoping we don't move on anytime soon."