Highland News Leader

Widmer Floral, Highland’s oldest business, growing with new owners

Retha Turner, the new owner of Widmer Floral, adjusts a bouquet of flowers. The business is undergoing renovations, and is expanding its offerings.
Retha Turner, the new owner of Widmer Floral, adjusts a bouquet of flowers. The business is undergoing renovations, and is expanding its offerings. amcdonald@bnd.com

Business is blooming at Widmer Floral Co. & Greenhouse in Highland.

Retha and Gary Turner recently purchased the well-known flower shop and are planning new growth opportunities for Highland’s oldest business.

“We moved here in 1996. I’ve been a homemaker my whole life, but then we moved away in 2006 for Gary’s — my husband — job. We moved to a couple of different places, including Las Vegas,” Turner said. “While we were in Vegas, we bought a renovation home. I renovated it while he worked. Then we moved back here in 2013.”

After the Turners moved back, they kept their home renovation business — House Turners, LLC — going. They have remodeled several homes Highland, but their main goal had always been out of reach.

“My husband and I have been wanting to buy an old home here somewhere, renovate it and put a wine shop in it. But it was just impossible to find that, because parking is difficult in Highland,” Turner said. “When this popped up, we thought it would be a great place to put a little wine shop.”

Turner found out Widmer Floral was for sale from a friend who worked at the flower shop. The previous owner, Gayle A. Thole, passed away in April 2016. The flower shop fell to her husband, Ronald, who decided to sell it.

“It’s a beautiful old building. I had friends who worked here at one time and told me it was for sale,” Turner said. “They said it really needed to be renovated, which is why we checked it out.”

Once they stepped inside, they fell in love with the atmosphere and aesthetics.

“It’s a beautiful, old building,” she said.

The business has been around since 1870, and offers floral design, fresh and silk arrangements, gifts for all occasions, delivery, full service weddings, and plants in greenhouses. Turner doesn’t want that to change.

“We want to keep the floral business going, because they’ve been very successful. We kept the name, because it’s too old of a company to change the name. It’s the oldest business (in Highland),” Turner said. “It’s 146 years old, and we plan on celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020.”

In addition to their older services, Turner wants to offer more parking and a way to move orders more quickly and efficiently. One of her major goals is to revamp their wedding business and maybe even add a coffee shop.

“We have lots of new systems being put in place,” Turner said. “We want to bring in more people. We are adding a coffee shop in the front and a wine shop with specialty wines. It won’t be a bar, but it’ll be a place we can do wine tastings. This will let us offer specialty wines, so when a husband comes in to buy a dozen roses, he could get a really nice bottle of wine, too.”

The Turners are optimistic and hoping that their green thumbs will be just as good as their eye for renovations. But if not, they’ve got five special resources at their disposal.

“When we looked at the business, we looked at the staff. I don’t have a lot of experience in floral design, but there are five girls who do,” Turner said. “Those five have been here off and on for 30 years.”

Overall, the Turners want to grow the business, but plan on keeping the name and the hometown feel.

“I don’t want to change the things that Widmer has always offered. We want to offer more services. I want to become an event center,” Turner said. “I want to be here for the community and just offer more, while adding onto what Widmer has already done.”

Widmer Floral At A Glance

New Owners: Retha and Gary Turner

Address: 1619 Papin St., Highland

Hours:

▪ Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5p.m.

▪ Saturday: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (8a.m. - 5 p.m. during the holiday season)

▪ Sunday: Closed

Services: Floral design, fresh and silk arrangements, gifts for all occasions, delivery, full service weddings, and plants in greenhouses

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