In celebration of the founder’s birthday, this month on June 23rd, it is no overstatement to call Veronica Shoemaker Florist a historical institution in Fort Myers, Florida. Veronica Shoemaker Florist is located at 3510 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd, (State Road 82) corridor, and Southwest corner of Veronica Shoemaker Blvd., in the “Dunbar Community”, near the Downtown River District. The shop was founded in 1975(the shop’s decades – long existence 45 years), and was originally located across the street at 3511 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
A succession plan was developed by Veronica Shoemaker, and implemented in 2010, for Mattie Shoemaker Young, her daughter, to take control of the shop as the second-generation owner of the florist while also maintaining fulltime employment as a school district administrator with Lee County Public schools. Mattie worked in the shop at night and during holidays to complete floral arrangements. She also took various floral design classes at certified Floral Design schools throughout the United States, to improve on her craft.
In 2014, Mattie established the new family owned Veronica Shoemaker Florist Limited Liability Corporation as the full-time manager. “For a while, operating the florist proved to be pretty bleak and a challenge,” said Mattie. We needed a new roof on the plaza, the 30-year-old floral coolers and air conditioners were constantly in need of repair, technology equipment needed upgrades, and the need to purchase expensive florist accounting software. A Strategic Plan was developed to embark on renovation and continuous education improvement with the results in mind to create a fresh and modern shop where visitors enjoy the space and we stay relevant with customers.
Unwilling to give up on the florist business that Veronica Shoemaker worked hard to build, the Shoemaker Young family persevered. People automatically assume that because you operate a business you have money, which is not always the case. We just had good work ethic. My mom would always tell my brother Bennie and I, “you can leave an inheritance to a “fool” and in two weeks, everything she worked for would be gone.” “So, we knew what we had to do, and that was to keep things operating,” said Mattie.
During the COVID-19 Shelter-In Period, we had to adapt quickly to remain open and continue to provide essential customer services. We closed our showroom to the public and reduced our daily hours to comply with the CDC requirements. Customers were calling for Sympathy/Memorial Work, Birthdays, Get Wells, and Just Because. We were open and delivering to the people who miss you the most and found our florist to be an essential service. One customer called to send something to a girlfriend who he had not seen for months. Another mentioned how his ex-wife dropped off groceries and he wanted to show his appreciation. The rest of the customers had wives they could not take out and moms they could not visit. Flower arrangements, were the easiest solution. We found ourselves providing essential services. During this period, we closed our showroom and only accepted telephone and/or orders placed online via our website for delivery and curbside pickup.
Now that Florida is gradually opening for business, as a full-service florist, we are fully open and are delivering daily, Monday-Friday, 8:30a.m. – 5:30p.m., and Saturday 9:00a.m. – 1:00p.m. We continue to accept orders for wire out, delivery, and/or pick up (includes curbside). With the showroom open, we are following the COVID-19 and CDC retail business operation rules.
We are so happy to be here for our customers both new and those long-term, who have sustained us especially through tough times. We have such gratitude for those families that have been with us for generations.