This article originally appeared in the Friday July 12, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
Despite the loss of its founder 15 years ago, Mission’s City Flower Shop is still thriving, especially with three generations of family members running it.
When the City Flower Shop and Wholesale was created in 1969 by Hilda C. Guerra, it was an opportunity for her to express herself creatively, her daughter Gloria said.
“My mother liked to create things,” Gloria explained. “She did wedding gowns, flowers, cakes, catering, she did it all. Everyone knows this place as ‘City Bridal and Flower Shop’ that was the original name and she took care of the bridal side. But with time she passed and we removed the bridal business. We just stayed with the flower shop.”
City Flower Shop provides flowers to Junior’s Supermarket, Walmart, HEB, and funeral homes, Gloria said. Located at 100 S Conway Ave., carries all different types of cut flowers from carnations to roses and even offers bears, chocolates and floral arrangements for homes and funerals, which Gloria said make up 60 percent of their business.
The shop was among the first vendors in the Valley that sold flowers in a traveling thermal truck driven by Hilda’s husband, Pablo S. Guerra.
“It grew to three trucks that delivered and sold flowers from Laredo to South Padre Island, and then my mom got sick and passed away from a stroke in 2004 when she was 66,” Gloria said. “My sister, Dora, and I kept operating it with me taking over the wholesale side of the business and Dora taking over the flower shop. Then Dora passed away from cancer in 2010 when she was 51.”
With Pablo stepping down from fully working at the store due to his health, Gloria became the sole remaining family member running the shop and decided to close the wholesale side of City Flower Shop.
“Then people started coming here, looking for us hoping to buy flowers,” Gloria said. We received encouragement from the community to keep the wholesale side alive. That’s when I started pushing the kids to start coming here.”
As a family business, all the employees at City Flower shop are relatives of Gloria. These include Gloria’s son-Jonathon-who graduated from Mission High School in 2017 and took over the wholesale business.
Three of Gloria’s nieces also work at the shop, she said.
“With Jonathan at the wholesale section, sales have been increasing. I am very proud of the work he and his cousins are putting into the store,” Gloria said. “I have a 15-year-old niece who comes straight here after school to mop and sweep. That’s how I started here. We are teaching them the value of working to be proud and earning a living. The plan is that these kids will eventually take over the business.”
Though the staff for City Flower Shop is small, Gloria said that the work put in by her family is more than enough to keep the business alive.
Even Pablo, who is wheelchair-bound, contributes by spending most of his day in a corner of the shop observing customers and employees in action, Gloria said.
“We were raised in the business and I don’t think we know how to do anything else,” Gloria said. “I feel proud of what we’ve done for us. This is a small business that has been with the community for a very long time. How many small businesses can say ‘I’m still open after 50 years.’”