March 21, 2012BERLIN – The Gill family has been selling flowers on Main Street since 1900, so it wasn't easy for Barbara (Gill) Guay to sell the family business. But after some serious thought including a trip to the local cemetery to as she said, "talk to my parents," she decided do it. Last Thursday, the transfer to Cindy and Steve Griffin was celebrated at a festive open house.
"It just kind of worked out," said Cindy. "I love flowers and it's a happy place." Best of all, she said is that Barbara Guay has stayed on. "She's amazing," she added.
"It's a dream," Guay said, "a sign from God" that it was time let go of the demands of running a business. She has owned the store since 1985, taking over from her father, Tom B. Gill, who took it over from his father, Tom Gill in 1951. "It's such a bitter sweet thing," Guay said, "I can't work five days a week for the rest of my life."
But she can and wants to keep a hand on in the business – mostly arranging flowers. She'll work two days a week and every other Saturday. "I got to pick the days," she said with a smile. "They treat me like a queen." Guay said, she has no big plans with her no found free time, "I'm not going to become a world traveler," she said, "I'm really a Berlin girl."
Guay, who went to floral school in 1967, has been reluctant to change with the times. "I'm not easily about to change," she said, "I did things the way my parents did things." In her 27 years at the helm of Gill's much has changed in the industry. The biggest one, she said, has been that fewer people send flowers to wakes and funerals. "Everybody use to send flowers," she said. Now, people have shorter visiting hours, less formal funerals and more cremations. Lot of changes for sure, but one thing remains, Guay said, "Flowers haven't changed."
Kim Harris is the new general manager. She's a local, but spent years away managing a retail clothing store, Fashion Bug, in the seacoast area. Since returning, Harris did accounting work for Munce's Superior Lubricants. She's excited about her new position and has big plans for store including "expanding beyond just flowers." The store now sells candy and has a few photographs by Christine Crane, of Lancaster.
The sale was finalized on Jan. 31. Steve, who last summer retired as the President of Isaacson Structural Steel, said the business is the brainchild of his wife, Cindy. He jokes that he's "an indentured servant."