CHARLESTON, Ill. (WAND) - Statistics show only 3 percent of family businesses in America operate at the fourth generation and beyond. This month, Charleston will lose a community staple like this.
Lawyer-Richie Flower Shop has been there for the community in good times and bad.
“We’ve had weddings, we’ve had fun celebrations," said owner and managing partner Connie Baker. "I’m able to see people my age and help them through sympathies, through funerals and through births of grandchildren.”
Now it's the end of an era, as the shop in Charleston is closing its doors after more than seven decades in the community.
“(It was) almost a perfect storm, so many things coming together at one time that we just felt it was time to retire and I feel good about it," Baker said.
Baker said many factors played into the decision.
“We had a family help, that helped us with our properties that we owned, and it was really difficult at our age to take over complete care of those properties," she said. "Then, a hike in our real estate taxes of 70 percent. We did go, and they did bring it down to 62 percent. And then, we also thought about the future with the $15 dollar minimum wage. Even though we don’t have to pay that, we choose to pay that plus two dollars more. And so, we are too big to just have one person in here. We have two to three designers all the time and we have somebody to deliver.”
Baker said the last thing she wanted to do was raise prices on their customers.
"I just don't think it's feasible to take on that cost, and I just have to face my customers and I'm just not willing to do it," she added. "At some point, someone is gonna say, 'I'm not paying that,' whether it's flowers, food, or whatever it is."
After the store announced it's closure, store owners tell WAND the support has continued to pour in, and they’re not surprised considering how caring the Charleston community is.
Baker shares, “The sweetest thing today I saw is I had a customer send to her mother and say, ‘I wanted you to have one last arrangement'. And it was heartbreaking.”
The store’s last day of operation is May 25. Connie's mom, Wilma Lawyer-Richie, will make her final flower deliveries on that day at the age of 82.
Connie said her entire family wants to thank the community for their decades of support. She said she looks forward to retirement. She will have more time with her family and plans to continue using her “green thumb” by cultivating a personal garden.