It's hard to imagine that a small business can survive for 70 years in the same location, with the same family. Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop and Garden Center has done just that. The passion of this family has been passed down for four generations. In 1949, Yasutaro and Kumiko "Kate" Yoshihara came to Lafayette after being released from a Japanese Relocation Camp in Southern Colorado. Saving money for years, they were able to purchase a two-acre lot in the heart of Lafayette. They set up a small fruit and vegetable stand, and farmed the land.
A decade later, the Yoshihara's oldest son Gene and his wife, Evelyn built a brick floral shop. Skip to the 70's and Gene built a large greenhouse facility where he grew and shipped carnations across the country.
The 80's saw a new generation come onto the scene as son-in-law Brian Wheat, AAF, PFCI took over the helm. Brian turned the carnation greenhouses into a garden center.
Today, you see a modern building, large greenhouses and a satellite store at Good Samaritan Medical Center. The family continues to invest in the community that has supported them. There are four family members including a 4th generation grandson, Tanner Wheat running the Garden Center. Sandi Yoshihara-Sniff, AIFD, AAF, CPF runs the florist and the wedding and events segment. Lori Wheat, AAF heads marketing and merchandising. All four are active in the floral industry and the community, and employ 30 local citizens.
People often tell me that they would love to work in a flower shop. Yes, it's a happy place to be and it smells wonderful. The next comment is usually, but how do you work with your family every day? Well, the answer to that question is a little more complicated.
My family business, Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop and Garden Center has been providing flowers and plants to our community since 1949. It started with my grandparents after World War II. They were released from a Japanese Internment camp in Southern Colorado and couldn't go back to their home in California. They found a piece of property in Lafayette and set up a fruit and vegetable market. About a decade later, their oldest son, Gene Yoshihara and his wife Evelyn knew that grocery stores would change how consumers shopped for produce and built the flower shop and production greenhouses.
In the 1970's, second generation owners shipped carnations throughout the U.S. This lasted for two decades and then South American growers could ship and grow flowers much cheaper. In the 1990's, third generation owners changed the greenhouses into a garden center and owned this market until big box stores came in.
Statistics show that less than 30% of family owned businesses survive into the third generation. The key to our family business has been our willingness to reinvent ourselves. Change is a way of life for us.
Today, our business adapts again.
Our greenhouses are being used for research on modern agriculture. This team is focused on using less pesticides and creating better yields along with bringing better application of land, crops and natural resources. So, our Garden Center has moved into our "Garden Market." An outdoor shopping experience with only the best outdoor plants for our region. Fourth generation family member, Tanner Wheat and Dad, Brian are focusing on color annuals, hardy perennials and a greenhouse full of edibles including herbs and vegetable varieties that have time to harvest in our short Colorado season. We won't be carrying every plant that grows in Colorado, we'll just be carrying the best varieties at their peak. Our Garden Market will focus on local favorites and best-sellers, keeping the stock to the cream-of-the-crop. With Brian Wheat at the helm as Chief Executive Office and over 30 years of greenhouse experience, his guidance and leadership is moving the family business towards its 70th season.
Our florist is run by Sandi Yoshihara-Sniff, AIFD, CPF, AAF. Sandi is a nationally recognized floral designer. She is a leader in the floral industry and has worked on national events including designing for the inauguration of George W. Bush and working on education programs for florists across the country. Sandi has put together a team of talented designers who are constantly learning and challenging themselves to incorporate today's fresh flower trends into our daily production and events.
So, how have we stayed together over the last sixty-nine years? Well, each family member controls a key segment of the business, we've achieved solid business performance with change and we have a strong commitment to our community. In addition, we like each other. We have a harmonious working relationship and our families like spending time together. Come visit and see why we've been here for nearly seven decades.
The greenhouse environment is a soothing place to wander. You'll discover turtles living in the koi fish pond. A fragrant, walk-in fresh flower cooler gives you the best and brightest garden flowers daily and is surrounded with two floors of gift and home décor showrooms. During the spring gardening season, 68,000 square feet of greenhouses are filled with outdoor plants, vegetables, herbs, patio pots and so much more.
The value Lafayette Florist provides is "emotional experiences". Flowers enhance everyday life, and are a part of every celebration. Each milestone is recognized with flowers as the exclamation point. From welcoming a new baby to a final good-bye and celebration of life. A teen's first flower experience with prom and later in life at her wedding. Life is for acknowledging special events. Birthdays, anniversaries and work achievements are complimented with flowers. Wishing someone well and letting them know you are thinking of them is done with flowers. One of the most surprising ways to send flowers is "just because..."
If you're a plant fanatic, you've got to make Lafayette Florist a staple. The tropical greenhouse displays indoor foliage plants ranging from today's trendy succulents to hanging plants and colorful bloomers. Each season changes. From cool weather pansies to heat loving zinnias --- and expert advice to turn your thumbs green! You'll be the envy of the neighborhood.
Lafayette Florist looks forward to the future and continuing to evolve. As gardeners look towards organic growing and flower buyers look for quality, long-lasting blooms, Lafayette Florist will be here with all the best in floral and gardening.