Hometown Guardian

Cover Story
2017
November/December

There is a story about a flower that once grew in an open field. As time went by, a town was built around the flower and the open field became a sea of concrete. People arriving in the new town did not know about the flower’s existence, but those who remembered the flower’s beauty delighted in sharing its location so that the flower could be enjoyed by all once more. 

The Lindale Floral Shop is a lot like this flower. The Floral Shop opened in 1947 in downtown Lindale back when Lindale was a still a small town. It has since moved locations and now resides in a cozy cottage with a garden-like venue in the side yard. Jennifer Darr, owner of Lindale Floral Shop, says that she likes to think of her little spot in Lindale as a “hidden treasure.” Growth and change is inevitable and the city of Lindale is growing up around Jennifer’s boutique of flowers and gifts, yet here stands the shop, 70 years later… a beautiful reminder of small town charm and southern hospitality.  With all the growth booming throughout Lindale, some citizens like the “mom and pop” atmosphere that the floral shop offers. Jennifer shares why she thinks the Lindale Floral Shop has been successful for 70 years: “We have people come in all the time that love the small town charm of the house and the items we carry. They love that when they are checking out, they are becoming not only our customers, but our friends; we know their names. I am all about customer service! I try to treat everybody like family that comes in. I think that is why we have been so successful.”

Sharing is Caring

Jennifer is embracing the growth around her but wants to share the many other “hidden treasures” Lindale has to offer. She asked herself, “How are we still going to be significant here in this town? You worry about getting overshadowed. There are so many great little places here. I thought there had to be a way that I could go meet the owners of other local businesses and kind of co-market.” She came up with idea called 'Sharing is Caring' in which she interviews the other small business owners and shares their inventory on her Lindale Floral Shop Facebook page. “I introduce my customers to them and in return, those business owners share their customers with me. There are so many people in this town that will shop here at Lindale Floral but have not been to some of the other great local businesses. Once we started sharing with my customers what other area businesses had to offer, as well as their story, people would go visit them and in return, the other businesses would talk about us. The community really loved it. We got amazing feedback. And it kind of caught on like wild fire.” Jennifer continues, “What I have come to learn from meeting all these business owners is that everybody has their own dream and vision. It is all their own money and hard work.
Once I started talking to the other owners, I had a whole new respect for them because they are going through the same thing I am going through: trying to make a living and serving their customers. Supporting one another is so much easier than thinking of each other as a threat. That’s the whole beauty of ‘Sharing is Caring’. It changed my attitude. I realized that we are all in the same boat. Why don’t we just support one another?”

Main Street Market is an antique and vintage goods shop that has revitalized an original “hometown” shop in downtown Lindale. Run by Tracy and Audrey Turner and their son, Cameron, Main Street Market features handpicked items. Audrey explains that “we have carefully curated our antique and vintage items throughout the store. We don’t have reproductions that you can get anywhere else.” Audrey appreciates the comradery 'Sharing is Caring' has brought to Main Street Market. “It’s a great tool because it gives people insight into different businesses. We all have customers who haven’t been able to visit all the stores in town. This gives them an opportunity to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ what our store is all about! ‘Sharing is Caring’ also lends itself to showing our town that we all are connected and want to help each other succeed.”

Tracee and Chad McCaslin are the third owners of the Lindale Candy Shop. The candy shop first opened in 1946 and remains in its original location 71 years later. Tracee is thrilled to share that they “still have the original recipes from Candy Jim and Mrs.  Ruby as well as all the same kitchen equipment that Candy Jim had specially made for candy making in the store. [They] make [their] candy by hand.” About 'Sharing is Caring': “We absolutely love cross promoting for the local businesses in our town. We believe working together as a community is so important. Hometown businesses are the backbone of our community. We love having long time customers come in & share their stories of when they were young and would get to come to the store with their nickel to buy some candy. Although prices may have changed, we hope the experience hasn’t. That’s our goal.”

Judson Turner is part owner/operator of Trail Creek Farm located just a few minutes from downtown Lindale. The tree farm has been open for over thirty years  and boasts not only cut your own Christmas trees, but also a gift shop, concession stand, tractor pulls, play area, and a hiking trail. Judson shares, “More than sixty percent of our business comes from outside the Lindale and Tyler area.  We have many families that drive from the metroplex to get out of the city and enjoy the small town of Lindale.  I have learned of many families including multiple generations that have been coming to our tree farm for over thirty years and consider the yearly excursion to Trail Creek Farm a family tradition. It’s these traditions that make me proud to be a business owner in Lindale.” Judson appreciates that “Jennifer recognizes the significance of family, community, and area traditions that are offered at Trail Creek Farm.  Her devotion to her hometown in Lindale, and the locally owned businesses, is evident with ‘Sharing is Caring.' 

Flourishing Among the Decades

The Lindale Floral Shop is more than flowers (although the arrangements concocted on site are stunning pieces of art). “When I bought the shop, it was pretty much strictly flowers. I had a totally different vision for it. I saw a huge need in Lindale for people to be able to just run in and buy a sweet gift or flowers. I wanted to bring in clothing, home décor, bath products, jewelry, and gift items. And I have gradually been able to do that.” The shop offers John Hart designs, Circle E Candles, Mud Pie Gifts, Canoe Gifts, home décor and apparel … just to name a few. A local favorite line of candles and apparel is the “Hometown” collection inspired by Jennifer’s Grandma, Margaret Alice Lane. These items are graced with vintage paintings by Mrs. Margaret Lane and often include scenes of downtown Lindale. Featured next to a display of “Hometown” luxury soy candles is a memorial Jennifer wrote about the woman that motivates her still to this day: “Many in our community knew her as an expert painter, but I knew her as Grandma. She was a rancher’s wife, gardener, Christian, art teacher, avid cane pole fisher, and one of the greatest loves of my life.”

 Jennifer has also incorporated events into her floral business by building a garden area where an old parking lot once stood. This outside area, neatly landscaped with welcoming patio furniture, has been named “The Flower Mill.” Jennifer and her husband have worked tirelessly to create a sweet spot in the middle of town. “The Flower Mill” hosts “Photos with Santa,” “Taco Tuesday” (Curbside Taco of Tyler sets up outside and customers can visit “The Flower Mill” to enjoy their lunch), and “I Scream for Ice Cream Wednesdays.” Jennifer also holds painting classes and tea parties inside a shabby-chic party building nestled among the garden area. A new feature on its way to “The Flower Mill” is Jennifer’s latest project “Big Mama’s Photo Wagon.” Jennifer and her husband have restored a vintage camper-trailer and plan on setting up a photo booth inside. With Jennifer’s keen eye for decorating, this camper trailer is unlike anything you could ever imagine! Dreamy white and gold fabric drapes the windows while a vintage “Photo Booth” sign welcomes visitors inside. Jennifer’s creativity is always flowing and there is no telling what she will come up with next!

“The Flower Mill” is an extension to “Lindale Floral Shop,” but the two flow together as one. Everything Jennifer does at her hometown business is for the community. She shares what makes her little piece of Lindale so special: “The biggest compliment I have ever received about 'Taco Tuesday' was from a man who told me, ‘I went to Taco Tuesday last week and I have to tell you, that was the most pleasant experience I have had. I looked around and nobody was on their cellphones; everybody was sitting around and enjoying each other.’” Jennifer describes how that compliment made her feel: “That’s why I did this! It made me feel good that the community is embracing it, and they want places like this.”

Jennifer feels blessed to be right where she is. “To move back here and actually own a piece of something you have grown up with is really sentimental to me. It is a labor of love. It is by the grace of God that I own this place. I cannot believe He gave me the courage to do it, and I know that I am supposed to be here.”

In Lindale, shopping at locally owned businesses is an adventure. These “mom and pop” shops have found that “sharing is caring” and are flourishing in the process. You might be headed in knowing exactly what you want, yet you are likely to find something unexpected and unique… much like a beautiful flower growing among a sea of concrete.

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