White Lilies N Paradise owner Susan Perry is dedicated to supplying Kokomo residents with plants, flowers and gifts to celebrate all the seasons of life. Her caring and enthusiasm spreads to the friendly staff who learn the names of customers and will even assist them in picking out individual bouquets or arrangements when they pop in the shop. While change has happened in the decades she’s been in business, Perry continues to love flowers and the happiness they bring people.
“I worked at Carriage Manor Flowers for 23 years until the owner retired, then I took about a year and a half off,” Perry says. “For a while I worked at Creative Financial Center scheduling events. When the owners of Big Ben Coffee wanted to step away from the flower shop part of their business, I took over. The shop became White Lilies N Paradise during the seven years it was at Forest Park Shopping Center. I moved to the Phillips Street location on Memorial Weekend in 2016, so I just celebrated my fifth-year anniversary here.”
“My whole family has always been involved and all three of my daughters have taken part in the shop,” she says. “My grandson helps with delivery. I also do deliveries and while I’m out, my husband Ken watches the store. The way people react when they get flowers delivered is a reward to us. Their facial features and their attitude changes. I love seeing the smiles when they know someone was thinking of them.”
The shop’s starting price points make their silk and fresh plants and flowers available to everyone. Bouquets start at $25. Besides the option of ordering ahead, there is a cooler of pre-made arrangements inside the shop. Staff will also help walk-in customers pick out flowers by the stem. Planters in ceramic pots or baskets begin at $20. Floor plants are between $25 to $40 with the price going up from there. Seasonal blooming plants such as spring daffodils, hyacinth and tulips or autumn mums run about $25 to $30 for a six-inch pot.
“It’s always best to order ahead of time to make sure you get what you want. During holiday times, we can run out of flowers after a while. There are times we do over a hundred arrangements in a day,” Perry says. “We place our flower orders with the wholesaler a month before and there can be nationwide flower shortages such as roses during the Festival of Roses Parade or lilies at Easter.”
“Another thing people might not realize is that they are paying more to send flowers than they need to. When they go through a wire service like FDT or Teleflora, a wire fee is charged,” she says. “If you go through an actual florist’s website, you don’t have to pay the wire fee.”
When Perry first became involved with the florist industry, there were no websites. She is grateful for the business that her website brings. During COVID, she saw an increase in people sending “Thinking of You” bouquets to nursing homes or even to friends since people were isolated from each other. Plants became a popular addition to homes since they brighten things up, release more oxygen into the air and lessen stress just by their beauty.
“COVID also seems to have changed people’s choices of wedding and party venues,” she says. “Brides are choosing barns and tents since more people can be included in outside areas. Wedding bouquets are often hand tied with stems showing. Then they are put into vases on the bridal table and used as center pieces. Also new are open concept bouquets made to look like they were just picked out of a garden- wispy and airy.”
“We love getting to know our customers,” she says. “We try to make them feel at home whether they are picking out decorations for their home at Christmas or during a grieving time when they have decisions to make.”
White Lilies N Paradise is located at 333 North Phillips St. You can reach the shop at 765-459-0637. To order flowers online visit WhiteLiliesinParadise.com, and find them on Facebook as White Lilies N Paradise Florist.
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