Final days for Jac-Lyn Flowers in Spencer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

By Emily Ford
SPENCER — For more than a quarter-century, Lynne Hege has worked side-by-side with her parents in the flower shop she and her father started the day after she graduated from college.
Never formally trained in design, Hege discovered that flower arranging was simply in her genes.
“I inherited it,” she said.
Now, after 25 and a half years in business, Jac-Lyn’s Flowers and Gifts in Spencer will close its doors for the last time. The business named for father — Jack — and daughter — Lynne — is closing so Jack and Bonnie Williams can retire and just maybe take a real vacation.
It’s been 15 years since they’ve done that.
The shop opened May 6, 1986, on Long Ferry Road in the former Katherine’s Florist. The family then moved the store to Spencer, across the street from the current location at 1108 S. Salisbury Ave.
The building and business are both for sale.
Jack had worked for another florist in Salisbury for 31 years when Lynne approached him about going into business together.
“She got tired of seeing me work for someone else six, seven days a week,” he said.
Lynne graduated from Pfeiffer University and planned to go into children’s protective services. But after her internship, she said she didn’t think she could handle the mental stress of the job.
“This opportunity became available, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.
Bonnie joined the business as bookkeeper in July 1990 after working for the Department of Social Services for 15 years. She jokes that she’s the dash in “Jac-Lyn.”
Together, the family has helped customers welcome babies, tie the knot, celebrate birthdays and say goodbye to loved ones.
Running a family business hasn’t always been easy.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Lynne said.
But looking back, the three wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Lynne’s kids grew up in the flower shop, first as babies in playpens and then as schoolchildren under the watchful eye of Nana. Daughter Heather, 21, attends N.C. State University and also inherited her grandfather’s design ability. Son Jacob is a senior at North Davidson High School, and Lynne commutes every day from their home in Arcadia.
Now in their 70s, Jack and Bonnie want to spend more time together.
“And not here,” Lynne said.
They went away for three days to another daughter’s wedding three years ago. Before that, their last vacation was 15 years ago. When they decided to retire, Lynne said she knew she would close the shop.
“It just wouldn’t be the same without them,” she said.
Lynne plans to do contract work for another florist and perhaps go back to school for a career in the medical field.
Closing the shop has been emotional. Between them, the family has 100 years of experience in the floral industry, and Jack has been working with flowers for 57 years.
“It’s bittersweet,” Bonnie said. “I’m looking forward to not having to hop out of bed and rush around to make sure the shop’s open on time. But I will miss our customers.”
Some customers have been with Jac-Lyn’s since the day it opened.
“There are so many people who depend on us and trust us,” Lynne said. “It’s going to be hard to let some of them go.”
Gail Lacey, the secretary at Spencer Presbyterian Church, said she’s sorry to see the shop close.
“They do a beautiful job,” she said while buying a bud vase with three pink roses for a friend in the hospital. “Their flowers are always pretty, and they truly are very accommodating.”
Many times, the family worked through the night preparing orders for the biggest days of the year — Mother’s Day, Valentines’ Day and Christmas. Although they hired extra help for deliveries and Vickie Lomax, a former customer, has worked in the shop for four years, Jack and Lynne have completed nearly every arrangement.
“We really have tried hard to make everybody feel special,” Lynne said.
The shop has delivered flowers as far away as Concord, Mocksville, Cleveland and Davidson County.
Jack’s speciality has been making large arrangements, earning him the nickname “Texas.” Lynne did more of the tedious and time-consuming detail work and grows greenery in her yard that she can’t buy from a supplier.
If a customer ordered an unusually shaped arrangement, Bonnie would sketch it on paper and Jack or Lynne would cut it from styrofoam, then fill it with flowers. The shop has done tractors, pigs, pretzels, even guns.
Casket sprays make up some of their most stunning work, and Jack and Lynne would build the arrangements on an antique wooden ironing board. That way, they could see how the flowers would drape on either side, and they could adjust the board to different heights.
The business suffered when families began asking for donations to charities in lieu of flowers.
“We had to adapt and change to make up for that lost revenue,” Lynne said.
They’ve seen floral trends come and go over 25 years, including tight arrangements packed with blooms and then light and airy styles featuring just a few flowers.
Bright colors are the trend now, including lime green and hot pink.
Jack said his favorite memories after 57 years are delivering flowers to people in nursing homes.
“I would get the biggest smiles,” he said. “I would almost float out of there because I made someone so happy.”
Flowers just make people feel good, Lynne said.
“That’s been our greatest thrill,” she said. “To make people happy.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.