FULTON — Since 1932, McIntire Florist has served Fulton residents in need of floral arrangements.
“A beautiful, mixed, colorful arrangement is Fulton’s go-to bouquet,” Sara Beth McIntire-Clapp said.
Four generations of the McIntire family owned and operated the store, which has been located on the corner of St. Louis Ave. and Market St. off Business Highway 54 since 1946. Robert McIntire, who represents the fourth era of McIntire ownership, is handing McIntire Florist to new hands.
Lifelong Callaway County residents Clint and Shauna Smith are taking over the small business, and they’ve already brought some new life into the Fulton mainstay.
“Just a new facelift,” Clint Smith said. “[We will] probably bring a few more items that’d make you want to walk into the store and not just call over the phone.”
But, they’re still preserving the McIntire name and the family charm of the storied business.
“We definitely wanted to make sure that we kept that log home feel,” Shauna Smith said, “and we wanted to make sure that anything that we did do incorporated that feel and continued the flow throughout the building.”
Clint is also an employee of Callaway Electric Cooperative, while Shauna will finish up her 23-year career as a kindergarten teacher at McIntire Elementary School this summer. Her mother used to work at McIntire Florist for Robert’s and Sara Beth’s late father, Hunter.
“Flowers have always been a part of my life,” Clint said, “because my mom not only did it during the day, but she brought those things home, and we would do things with flowers at night, so I’ve always had a passion for flowers.”
Smith said she’ll miss life in the classroom.
“Going into that kindergarten classroom every day, I knew there was going to be trials and tribulations that you have to go through. There’s going to be things that you’re going to encounter all day that could be trying, sometimes. But, there’s also those moments that I will never forget and that I will cherish forever.”
Her new gig at McIntire Florist might not be as different as expected.
“You never know what you’re going to run into when you open that door,” Robert McIntire said of his work at the flower shop. “This business, I consider it a last-minute mad rush on a daily basis. That’s the flower business.”
Christina Case, a longtime former employee of McIntire Florist and a social media consultant, returned to the flower shop to help the Smiths learn the ropes of running the business.
“Clint and Shauna approached me and said they were buying the flower shop, trying to carry on the legacy of McIntire,” Case said, “I have a lot of pride for that, and I think that they’ve served the community very well. I was very honored, and I want to help them carry on that tradition, so I pulled myself out of retirement. After 33 years of doing flowers, I’m back to doing it again.”
As a new chapter begins for McIntire Florist, Case is confident in the new owners’ ability to continue its legacy.
“They’re going to do great,” Case said. “I’m going to make sure of that. There’s no other question about that, because if you will it to happen and you put the hard work in, then it will happen. I’m a firm believer in that, if you have faith and you put hard work and your heart and soul in things, nothing but good can come out of it.”
Case, who was hired as a full-time designer by Hunter McIntire after only her first day on the job, said the key to any arrangement or bouquet is the focal flower. It’s also important to let each complimentary flower breathe and fit the color profile.
“Each flower has its own beauty,” she said, “so make sure you give it room inside of each arrangement so it can shine like a bright light by itself, because each flower, no matter the color or the shape, is a creation of God, and I cherish that.”
Clint Smith isn’t too confident in his designing ability.
“I don’t think I’ll be making any flower arrangements, but I’ll be a good delivery guy.”
But Robert McIntire thinks that with some practice, he’ll be able to find his way.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” he said. “It just takes some time to learn it.”
McIntire said that he’s excited to see McIntire Florist bloom under the Smith family.
“We’ve been in business a long time, and this will give the place a new lease on life, and I’m happy to see it continue on, and I know they’ll do good.”
Case and McIntire aren’t alone in their hope for what’s ahead.
“We’re happy that a new family is taking it over and going to maintain the history and carry it on as McIntire,” said John Gray, whose patronage of McIntire Florist helped him and his wife Mary start a tradition to bring real flowers to their church’s alter for Sunday services. “It’s really cool.”
“For me, it’s always exciting just to come in here and see what they put together,” said Mary Gray. “And I’m never been disappointed, they’re always beautiful and so creative. People are loving it, and I think it’s because it’s a nice, full bouquet. That’s what’s made everyone so enthusiastic to support it.”