Anita Farmer’s love of flowers, family and community has sustained her for 41 years
By Andee Erickson
MT. PLEASANT—After 41 years under Anita Farmer’s ownership, Farmer’s Country Floral has been renamed Farmer’s Floral. Farmer’s name hadn’t left the shop and neither quite had she.
For the past few decades, Farmer said running the flower shop has given her the opportunity to help people during important times in their lives. The camaraderie she continues to cherish with her fellow co-workers has made going to work like going home to family, which explains why handing off the business has been no easy task.
“It’s hard,” Farmer said. “It’s really been hard. My husband died ten years ago, a little more. It’s just all we had. We didn’t have any children, but we had 27 foster kids, so this was our constant.”
Farmer is put at ease knowing her constant is going to be in the care of Kristine Simmons, a long-time member of the family who has worked in the shop for the past 25 years. With wonderful design skills, Farmer said she’s better than the teacher.
Simmons, who’s never worked for another floral shop, has learned everything she knows from her years with Farmer. The transition to take over the shop seemed natural after getting to know the customers and growing her passion of working with flowers, she said.
“We just hope that we can continue to give that quality service and that our customers will grow old with that,” Simmons said. “A lot of our customers started out with their little dance flowers, to their prom flowers to their wedding flowers.”
Simmons plans for the future of the store include broadening the variety of gift and unique items on the floor.
“She’s going to make it better,” Farmer said. “I know her; I trust her with my life and I know that she will improve the business, that she’ll keep taking care of the customers, which is super important to me.”
Farmer said Simmons taking ownership is the best she could ever hope would happen to the shop, but before Farmer ever acquired her own flower shop she had worked in three others.
It all started when she was just out of commercial art school. She was doing sign work at the time when she found herself in a flower shop in Lindon ordering flowers for the first time. The shop was called Orchard Shop when she first visited.
When the owner, Mairon Howarth, asked Farmer how she wanted to sign the card, Howarth responded with excitement after she recognized Farmer’s name from her sign work and offered her a job at the shop.
Farmer worked for Howarth until the business was sold, she said. It was under Howarth where Farmer said she learned the most about the floral business. After the Orchard Shop sold, Farmer worked in both Pleasant Grove and Provo before coming to Sanpete County with her husband.
They fell in love with the Sanpete they had gotten to know while spending time at their cabin in Indianola, Farmer said. Between the people, small town atmosphere and plain beauty of the place, she said it’s a great place to live. So when the Farmers decided they wanted to buy a flower shop they came to Sanpete, where Mt. Pleasant had one for sale in 1969.
The family of co-workers Farmer has built up over the years has included her late husband and some of their foster children. After her husband was injured laying brick he kept book at the shop for more than 10 years, she said, and they had fun when the kids wanted to help out with the flowers. If the girls’ flower arrangements were good enough, she said they would put them in the cooler and see if they’d sell.
Those were fun times, Farmer said, but the business had its hardships, too. The job comes with more physical labor than people might imagine and the hours can be long, she said, especially on the ‘four floral holidays’: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Valentine’s Day and prom. Not to mention the emotional strain that can be found in a business where Farmer said flowers say things people can’t.
“The flower business is kind of interesting because you’re working with people in their emotional highs and lows,” Farmer said. “They’re over the moon in love, they’re getting married, they had a new baby or they’ve had a death. So a lot of the times you’re counselor and you have to be able to work with people in this business.”
As far as staying successful was concerned, Farmer said she was always quite tenacious in keeping the shop open in a town that can only support one floral business. It’s all they had after her husband got injured, she said.
While Simmons was on vacation in June, Farmer typically helped out once a week on Saturdays, she said.
Oh, and her favorite flower is the carnation.
“They come in the most beautiful colors,” Farmer said without hesitation. “They last the longest of a lot of flowers, they are fairly inexpensive and it’s just one of God’s prettiest creations. They’re just the prettiest flower.”