The entrance to Dorothy’s Flowers in historic downtown Claremore is nestled beneath a classic green neon sign, next to a wooden cart that is brilliant with blooms. The flowers outside and the bright sign beckon passersby to take a step inside, to take a fragrant breath of the nostalgia that is Dorothy’s Flowers. From the old-fashioned coolers to the corner that is filled with antiques, it’s like taking a step back in time.
Since 1947, when Dorothy Bernet opened her doors on Will Rogers Boulevard, the floral shop has been a staple of Claremore. In the 1950s, Dorothy expanded the business to include the raising and selling of poodles, so she changed the name of the shop to Dorothy’s Petals and Poodles. After many prosperous years, Dorothy sold the business to employee Gertrude Riddle in the 1970s. The business continued to thrive.
Fast-forward to the 1990s. Holly Thompson was in northern New York, earning a college degree in equine management, horsing around with the idea of becoming a vet. (Like what I did there?) Holly’s parents had ties to both a funeral home and a florist (there is definitely a connection between the two industries), and when Holly was looking to order her wedding flowers, her mom decided to give her a boost by volunteering her to help out in her friend’s florist business. Bonus for Holly: she got some on-the-job training, in addition to (I’m sure) a great deal on her wedding blooms. After Holly got married, she moved with her husband from New York to Tulsa. She needed a job, so she decided to use her newfound skill and got hired at a Tulsa floral shop. She continued that pattern for the next five years. In the meantime, she got to know Gertrude Riddle, owner of Dorothy’s Flowers, in a professional capacity.
After the five years, Holly and her husband decided to expand their family. Holly wasn’t interested in sending her baby to daycare, so when she was approached by Gertrude with an offer to buy Dorothy’s, she jumped at the chance. She was able to be a business owner, doing what she loved, while her two little girls grew up in the back of the shop.
Today, Dorothy’s Flowers still sits in its original place. There are four employees, plus owner Holly. Gertrude pitches in on the holidays, which are a crazy time in the flower business. Holly’s favorite holiday, from a florist’s perspective, is Christmas. Not because people order red and green bouquets, but because she often gets hired to go into private homes and decorate to the nines. Custom Christmas trees, wreaths, you name it…Holly can do it. She also helped decorate a tree for Safenet’s Festival of Trees event last year.
I asked Holly what she loves most about owning Dorothy’s Flowers. She said the best part is the opportunity to help people. No matter the reason for folks to visit Dorothy’s, they always need help. Whether it’s choosing the perfect wedding flowers, the right funeral arrangement, or the best bouquet from an apologetic husband, Holly and her team are there to assist. “Whether the occasion is happy or sad, it doesn’t matter. We do our best to make things better, if even just for a moment,” Holly said. “Every day is an emotional roller coaster; every day is different.”
Holly is now serving the third generation of Dorothy’s Flowers customers. After so many years of being the face of the floral shop, her customers have become family. When a repeat client calls, she can recognize his or her voice on the phone. This is why Holly goes to work every day: because she loves her customers.
Dorothy’s Flowers has been voted Rogers County’s Best Florist for the past five consecutive years. It has also been named best antique store. Did you know they carry antiques? I certainly didn’t. The shop also has fresh plants and flowers, for any event from proms to weddings to funerals. There is a large variety of gifts, including stuffed animals, candles, Christian sentiments like angels and crosses, as well as some items that fall into the categories of cast iron, Western and shabby chic. Gift certificates are also available in any denomination. Holly prides herself on not stocking items that other stores do, so if you’re looking for gorgeous flowers plus a unique gift, Dorothy’s Flowers is the place to go. There is a reason it’s been in business since 1947.
Dorothy’s Flowers is open Monday – Friday from 9a – 5p, and Saturday from 9a – noon. Although the store has posted hours and is closed on Sundays, the phone is always answered.
Next time you’re strolling through historic downtown, pop into Dorothy’s Flowers and see what has made this little floral shop a Claremore icon.
Keep it local, Claremore.
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who really loves flowers. And chocolate.