|© Mark Bialek|
Theresa Whitley, who is forty, has spent most of her life arranging flowers. “I’ve been doing flowers professionally at a flower shop since I was thirteen years old, but I’ve actually been arranging flowers since I was four,” she says. “I started in my grandmother’s garden.” After working at Dexter Flowers for four years, she took over the business from Steve and Barb Gergely in October. The store specializes in arrangements for weddings, funerals, and other events.
Whitley has a bachelor’s degree in commercial floriculture from Michigan State. After graduating, she worked a long time as design manager for Silk & Morgan, a large, high-end floral business in Detroit. She left in 1997 to start a family and has two children, ages ten and seven. Both help out at Dexter Flowers and even practice their own arrangements.
The Gergelys owned the store for nine years. Barb says that though they were ready to retire, the decision was still hard. “It’s like selling one of your children,” she says. But they’re sure they’re leaving it in good hands: “We feel very positive about selling it to Theresa. There isn’t anything she can’t do.”
Whatever Whitley does with flowers, she does it with one thought: “Every arrangement I get my hands on has to be good enough to go to my grandmother. And once that’s been done, it can go out,” she explains. “A single rose or a hundred-dollar bouquet—it doesn’t matter. Every order is just as special.”
Dexter Flowers, 8054 Main, Dexter, 426–3240. Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Closed Sun.
[Originally published in November, 2008.]
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