Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Azalea City Florist has successfully been in business for 37 years, but now under new ownership, Jeff and Laurie DeLoach are taking one of Valdosta’s staple flower shops to the next level.
“We’re bringing new designs and more modern designs to this flower shop,” said Laurie DeLoach.
The shop was previously owned by Ronald and Jean Moore, the aunt and uncle of DeLoach’s husband.
“They were ready to retire,” said DeLoach. “We have had it a little over a year now.”
DeLoach was a dental hygienist for nine years prior to taking over the shop. She didn’t have any previous experience in the flower business, but her drive and the flexibility of being her own boss have taken her a long way.
“I was really intrigued with owning my own business and being my own boss,” said DeLoach. “The flexibility of owning my own business was one of the things that drove me.”
As a mother of two small children — 3-year-old Taylor Grace and 7-year-old Carson — DeLoach was ready to have a profession that allowed her to be more interactive in her children’s lives.
“Now I can take the time in the afternoon to go pick Carson up from school,” said DeLoach. “Which is something I was never able to do.”
DeLoach said being her own boss hasn’t necessarily made her a better mom, but a more accessible one.
While DeLoach is still learning as she goes, her designer, Tonya Whitaker, who was with the Moore’s for four years, has been a big help in helping her transform the business.
“Her grandmother (Versie Hester) owned Versie’s Flower Shop in Tifton,” said DeLoach. “So she grew up in the business.”
Now that DeLoach is a part of the Georgia State Floral Association and the Southwest Georgia Floral Association, the shop has been expanding its abilities.
“We’ve been doing a lot of flower shows and entering design competitions,” said DeLoach.
At the last Southwest Georgia Floral Association meeting in September, Whitaker won first place in the design competition, and in July, she took second place. She will now compete on Nov. 11 for the title of Southwest Georgia Designer of the Year.
“If she wins that she’ll go on to compete in the Georgia State Floral Association Designer of the Year competition” said DeLoach.
These competitions exemplify DeLoach’s attempt to transform Azalea City Florist from its past reputation of being a funeral-only florist.
“We just don’t want that to be the only thing we’re known for,” said DeLoach.
DeLoach has included some big changes to the business.
“We’ve added weddings and we are now booking weddings,” said DeLoach. “We also do free consultations for weddings to help them figure out what they want.”
The shop will do rehearsal dinners or any other type of party.
“We will set it up and take it down,” said DeLoach.
Also, just in time for the holidays, the shop will be decorating houses for Christmas. If you would rather do it yourself, the showroom offers a variety of items and inspiration that guests will be able to check out at the Azalea City Florist Christmas open house, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.
There will be door prizes, refreshments and holiday decorations for purchase incorporating the very popular deco-mesh ribbon.
“If you bring your church bulletin to the open house you will get 10 percent off your purchase,” said DeLoach.
Additionally, all fall decorations will be on sale for 25 percent off.
The showroom offers a variety of plush animals, balloons, candles, cards and fresh arrangements perfect for that last-minute gift.
“We have arrangements to come pick up,” said DeLoach. “We make them fresh every day.”
The shop also offers home arrangements, plants and botanical silk flower arrangements for the home and the cemetery.
While DeLoach doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into just doing funerals, it is a strong service and tradition of Azalea City Florist that she plans to continue and grow.
DeLoach cares about the needs of her customers and has done many casket blankets on a Sunday.
“We really devote
ourselves to help those who need them,” said DeLoach.
That’s why DeLoach keeps a constant check on the phones. She never wants to turn away any family in need, especially during such a difficult time.
A newly added aspect to the funeral services is the worry-free flower maintenance program.
“We take flowers to the cemetery and put them on the graves of loved ones,” said DeLoach.
After the cost of the arrangement — which starts at $35 — delivery is only $5.
“We also try to sweep and clean up around the grave and make sure it’s taken care of,” said DeLoach.
Azalea City Florist even goes the extra mile of taking a picture of the grave after each delivery so customers can rest assured that everything is being done exactly as they wish.
Azalea City Florist still has some familiar faces such as Whitaker and transportation specialist Andy Fletcher. DeLoach has devoted herself to providing the same friendly service with a modern twist.
Though the name remains the same, Azalea City Florist is a whole new business and its is taking flowers to a whole other
level. Just stop by and see.
Azalea City Florist
1512 E. Park Ave.
Phone: (229) 244-6363.