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Business Spotlight: Breaking Fresh Ground

Hazel’s Flowers brings innovation to the floral industry by partnering with local flower farmer

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Last edited 11:19 a.m., June 7, 2022

When Ozark flower farmer Megan Quick wandered into Hazel’s Flowers in September 2021, along with homegrown dahlias and tulips, co-owner Jeff Van Haveren saw a promising opportunity to keep the nearly 60-year-old flower shop fresh.

“She and I have struck up something that is worth gold,” Van Haveren says.

Full-time pharmacist Quick began growing flowers during the pandemic. Her farm, Dazey Churn Flower Farm, produced so many flowers she didn’t know what to do with them all. Van Haveren was searching for a way to start replacing imported flowers sold in the shop with locally grown alternatives, partially because the pandemic caused disruptions in transportation from South America.

It didn’t take long for the two to realize they were the solutions to each other’s problems.

“We just hit it off immediately,” Quick says.

This year, the pair made a plan for the next growing season that will help Quick reduce waste and prevent a void in Van Haveren’s supply. When florists and farmers work together, the streamlined process results in sustainability – and much fresher flowers.

Originally hailing from Minnesota, Van Haveren says he has been in the floral business his whole life. He originally planned to grow flowers for a living but was told that being a florist would be a better fit. The partnership with Quick allows him to merge the separate worlds of designing and growing flowers. Now, he proudly takes on the title of farmer-florist in addition to owner of Hazel’s Flowers.

Growing pains
To keep small-town flower shop Hazel’s thriving, Van Haveren acknowledges it takes a delicate balance of living up to a reputation dating back to 1963 and keeping up with the ever-evolving floral industry.

“This is kind of a gem in the world of ma and pa shops,” Van Haveren says.

The business’ namesake – Hazel S. Workman – lived in Chadwick and was known as “Miss Manners” of the area, Van Haveren says. Today, her influence lives on. The flower shop still stands as the oldest business on the Ozark square.

“We have a big order to keep the name Hazel’s going,” Van Haveren says.

After moving to Ozark in 2012, Van Haveren entered the scene of Hazel’s Flowers in 2015 when he and his partner, Shelley Hume, purchased the flower shop from Bobbi Wixson. The first order of business was making some changes inside the store. Only a small portion of the shop was filled with plants. Manager Carlye Schmickle says the rest of the shelves were lined with trinkets. Hazel’s was more of a gift shop than a flower shop at the time.

Today, plants occupy every nook and cranny in the shop to create the feel of a flourishing greenhouse. Van Haveren says this transformation paid off in the form of a $100,000 increase in annual sales as the business generated $350,000 in 2021 revenue. He partly attributes the uptick to drawing in new and younger customers.

The pandemic brought about an unfortunate change in the demographics, as Hazel’s saw an increase in sales for funerals. This trend in the floral business is a dismal one, but Schmickle says spreading joy in the form of bright, colorful flowers is one of her favorite aspects of working in the industry.

This summer, Hazel’s Flowers is going to bring do-it-yourself appointments back to the shop after a long break due to the pandemic. The service allows customers to book a time to use any supplies available in the store to design their own floral arrangements.

“There’s a mystique out there that people want to look in the back of the flower shop,” Van Haveren says.

Next season
Van Haveren hopes the DIY opportunity will keep the shop buzzing with customers. Additionally, he expects more traffic flow over time with the development of nearby Finley Farms. The store sits about a half-mile from the Johnny Morris development.

At 65, Van Haveren says he is beginning to think about who will take over next. He would eventually like to transition to a part-time position with less responsibility that still allows him to fill his role as “the plant guy” to regular shoppers.

Since last fall, Quick is one of those regulars. She says she enjoys spending time in the shop surrounded by Van Haveren’s wonderful world of plants, learning from him and hearing his many stories.

While Hazel’s may see changes in owners and customers, Van Haveren insists the future of the plant industry is secure. He says a magazine he recently read posed a question about the industry: “What’s the word on green plants?”

“I opened it up to page 32,” Van Haveren says, “and in bold letters it said, ‘They’re here to stay.’”

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