By Terry Rogers
After 79 years in business, Gooden’s Florist officially closed their doors on Thursday, March 31. According to Lori Gooden-Mesh, it is time for her to enjoy retirement after working at the shop for the past 37 years.
“The business was started by my in-laws, Winfred and Lori Gooden,” Ms. Gooden-Mesh said. “In 1941, they moved their house to Milford and added on over the years. The flower shop was my mother-in-law’s idea to open the shop and it has been a wonderful place to work. My kids were never latchkey kids as they got off the bus right here. For the past 37 years, I have walked through the door to my house into the shop, that was my commute. But it’s time to move on.”
The business began when Winfred Gooden began growing bulbs in the basement of the original house. He then sold the bulbs in a store upstairs and eventually the floral shop was created. Their son and Ms. Gooden-Mesh’s late husband, Jim, was raised in the house, but became a mason. In 1974, he married Lori McFadden and the couple purchased the flower shop five years later from his parents. The couple struggled at first, not bringing home a paycheck for the first five years, but Ms. Gooden-Mesh said that she never regretted the decision to purchase the shop.
Ms. Gooden-Mesh said that one of the reasons she decided to close the shop was that her husband passed away six years ago. She has since remarried and did not want to bring someone else into the shop. She said that running a florist can be difficult as she rarely was able to celebrate a holiday. Ms. Gooden-Mesh said that she was in the shop on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and many other holidays trying to be sure that her customers had the flowers they needed for their special occasion. She said that the past 37 years had been amazing and that she could not say enough about how her customers had supported her over the years.
“You feel like part of the family,” she said. “We did the flowers for someone’s wedding. Then we were sending flowers for the birth of children. Those children grew up and we were doing their prom flowers and then the children’s wedding flowers. Of course, you had to deal with the sad times like funerals for that family, but we felt like we were there with them every step of the way.”
One of the things Ms. Gooden-Mesh said that she will miss is the employees who have been with her faithfully for many years. She said her employees have been with her as long as 20 years and although many business experts say that a boss should not get too close to their employees, she felt as if her staff were part of her family. Ms. Gooden-Mesh said that most of her staff was planning to retire, although some would not remain idle for long. She said that those who had not chosen to retire would seek work elsewhere.
“I am looking forward to knowing what it is like to stay in your pajamas until noon,” Ms. Gooden-Mesh said. “I am going to stay on a permanent honeymoon and be domestic. I am going to make soup. I am going to make jewelry. I am excited to see what the next chapter of my life is going to bring.”