De Soto florist celebrates half century in business | Local News

As Mother’s Day approaches, Rose Yancey can be found in the back room of her De Soto shop, designing and putting together flower arrangements, just like she’s been doing for more than 50 years.

Rose, 82, and her son, Barry Yancey, operate Cherished Memories Flowers and Gifts at 400 Main St. The business has changed names, locations and personnel over the years, but is still going strong as it enters its second half century.

Rose and her husband, the late Gordon Yancey, came to De Soto in 1971.

“We were living in St. Louis and had three young kids, ”she recalls. “We decided we wanted to raise them in a small town and we went looking. Gordon was an accountant, so we knew he could get a job just about anywhere. ”

They settled on De Soto and purchased the former Stevens Florist at 11 Boyd Street, plunging her into an unfamiliar world.

“I didn’t know one flower from another,” Rose said. “But, like I told everyone, I like to eat, and that’s a powerful motivator. So I started experimenting. I learned, by trial and error, and found that I love doing this.

“A couple of girls (from the original staff) stayed on and helped us get to know the community, learn how things went.”

The community welcomed the family, but expectations for their success were not high. “People gave them six months,” Barry said.

But Rose was determined to make it work.

“The first house we had, I remember calling it Green Acres, after the old ramshackle house on the TV show,” she said. “But God took care of us. We ran the business by the Golden Rule, and things got better. ”

Settling in

When the Yanceys arrived in De Soto, it was a busy, bustling small town.

“There were all kinds of different stores and businesses here,” Barry said.

But it was far more of a country-style life than the city-bred family was used to.

“A lady called to order flowers for a funeral,” Rose recalls. “And she said, ‘I did not know he died until I heard it at the feed store.'”

The family soon became part of the fabric of town life, especially Gordon, who got involved in community service.

“He served as head of the De Soto Chamber of Commerce, was president of the PTA,” Barry said. “He was a huge booster of the school; he rarely missed a game. He actually had a special seat in the gym. He helped get the concession stand at the football stadium. ”

While Barry went into the family business, daughter Beth taught and coached in the De Soto school system for many years, recently retiring. Younger son Dwight, better known as Butch, is a corrections officer in Farmington.

“I’m so glad we moved here,” Rose said. “It was so good for them. The small town atmosphere, the morals, were just what we wanted. ”

The Yanceys moved their business to 106 Main St. in 1976.

“I remember being 10 years old, hauling loads of stuff to the new place in my little red wagon,” Barry said. “We changed the name to De Soto Florist. For a while it was De Soto Florist and Fudge Factory. Over the years it was also a tuxedo rental, and Yancey’s Fancy Frozen Yogurt in the early ’90s. ”

In 1991, the Yanceys bought a second business, the Hallmark store in Jefferson Square on the west edge of town, just in time to get in on the Beanie Baby craze.

“We had people lined up out the door to buy them,” Barry said.

In 1996, the shop gave up its Hallmark affiliation, and in 2000 the Yanceys moved their downtown store into the one at Jefferson Square, consolidating operations.

“A lot of people came and helped us with that move,” Barry said. “It snowed that day, and we thought no one would show up. The outpouring of love was just unbelievable. ”

The business made its final move in 2007, to its current location on Main Street, the former Underwood Hardware store.

With more than 13,000 square feet of space on two levels, it is one of the biggest buildings in town. An interesting feature is the glass floor upstairs.

“We think it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition,” Rose said.

And, like any good building, it has a ghost.

“We call him Gus,” Rose said. “He’s a good guy.”

Quest for perfection

Over her five decades of flower arranging, Rose says there’s not much she hasn’t done.

“I made a guitar one time,” she said. “I made a shotgun for the funeral of a hunter that turned out beautiful. I’ve had people bring in things to put in the arrangements, like antlers, a dragon, an anchor or a hat for a lady in the Red Hat Society.

“I wasn’t happy with any project unless it was just right.”

Personalization is a key factor.

“The whole time I’m making something, I have a picture in my mind of the person, whether I know them or not, and I let that guide me,” Rose said. “A lot of times, when they pick it up, people say, ‘How did you know that was her favorite color?’ or I’ll put four roses in and they’ll say, ‘How did you know he had four kids?’ ”

After the death of her husband in 2011, Rose might have considered retirement, but that option held no appeal.

“I work six days a week. I don’t want to stop, ”she said. “My doctor said as long as you keep busy you’ll feel better. I’ve seen it too many times where people retire and then everything just kind of stops. ”

She enjoys helping people during intensely emotional life events.

“You see people at their worst time and at their best time,” she said. “I’m just a plain old person. If somebody comes in crying, I’ll sit down and cry with them. If somebody comes in all broken up, we have a space here where we can sit with them until they feel better. ”

That empathy has endeared her to the community, staff member Cindy Slinger said.

“A girl came in with a prom corsage her dad had ordered and she didn’t like the colors,” Cindy said. “She was really upset, and Rose worked with her until it was right. It was crazy busy in here, but Rose acted like she was the only customer around and the girl was just beaming when she left. And that’s not unusual here.

“I don’t think (Rose and her family) realize what an impact they’ve had in this town.”

Now serving the third and sometimes fourth generation of customers, Rose says she’ll keep on as long as she can. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a lot of fun, too,” she said. “We’ve met a lot of people and become like family with so many of them.

“There’s nothing better than the look on someone’s face when you give them a flower. It just makes you feel wonderful. ”


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