Small business doesn’t get much smaller than Bettye’s Flower Design on Purefoy Drive.
Owner Bettye Jenkins operates out of a small building that sits just steps across the lawn from the back door of her trailer. Her friends Thomas and Mary Alice Eckman helped build the flower shop and currently Jenkins’ assistance in day-to-day operations consists of one man, Russell O’Briant, who is training as a designer and also does deliveries.
Another friend designed the glossy pamphlet for Bettye’s Flower Design — “Flowers with a Personal Touch!” — that includes details of Jenkins’ 40 years of experience in the flower business. She was raised by her grandmother, Ada Edwards, who once earned a living selling flowers on Franklin Street. In the pamphlet, there’s a picture of Jenkins as a young girl gathering flowers in the woods for her grandmother.
At one time, Jenkins operated a flower shop on Graham Street, but she closed it under the pressure of rent payments and supplies. She opened her location on Purefoy Drive in the early 1990s and operates mostly on word-of-mouth business. The flower shop out back houses the essentials: flower-related tools, baskets, containers, decorative accents and a refrigerator.
This is not the kind business that generates benefits, even for Jenkins. She discontinued her health insurance coverage at the end of 2008 after her monthly premiums swelled from $249 to $346. “During trying times, people don’t buy flowers quite as much as they usually do,” she said. Something had to give and, as is often the case for businesses of any size, health care expenses were among the first to get cut.
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