Business May '17

Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses: Where Tradition Meets Technology

Carter's Florist and Greenhouses by Kelly Nash Photography

For more than 61 years, Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses has served St. Petersburg and the surrounding area. Terry Hagstrom, the current owner, has owned and operated the shop for the past 24 years. In 1993, Terry purchased Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses from Robert Carter. Mr. Carter opened the business in 1946 under the name of Lakeview Nursery. He continued the operation uninterrupted until 1956, when he initiated the name change to Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses.

With such a long local history, creations by Carter’s have touched many lives. The five-star reviews all over the internet and a longstanding customer base are evidence of that.

Hagstrom says that one of the most rewarding aspects of running the well-established flower shop is the continuity.

Terry Hagstrom has owned Carter’s for the past 24 years by Kelly Nash Photography
Terry Hagstrom has owned Carter’s for the past 24 years by Kelly Nash Photography

“We have third and fourth-generation customers. We have customers who, we’ve done their parents’ weddings and now we’re doing their children’s weddings,” Hagstrom said. “They become family. They can call to place an order and we generally know exactly what they want because we know them personally. We know their personality. We know their home. We know their look and the products they like. It’s a real people business. It’s not a catalog type business.”

In addition to flower arrangement delivery, Carter’s goes above and beyond to create and design comprehensive, unique decor for events, including weddings and corporate parties. With a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Gulfport, Carter’s has a selection of linens, props and lighting that they use, along with their trademark floral bouquets, to create beautiful backdrops for special occasions. They have provided flowers for numerous events, such as the St. Pete Grand Prix, as well as providing the Christmas decor at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort since 1995.

To stay on top of the newest trends, Hagstrom and his team of eight employees attend seminars, read industry periodicals, and pay attention to how other shops are doing things. Then, he says, they make enhancements to provide their customers the best experience possible.

Carter's Florist and Greenhouses by Kelly Nash Photography
Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses by Kelly Nash Photography

Hagstrom says that his industry is more complex than most people realize because there are so many steps involved in creating beautiful and memorable events.

“It’s a challenging business,” he said. “People don’t really have an idea as to what goes into all this…from the minute we get the flowers to the time an event or a wedding takes place. There’s a whole week of activity that happens prior. It actually starts a couple of weeks before with the ordering of product.” Still, after it’s all done, Hagstrom said: “My favorite part is seeing everything beautifully done at the end of the day, and our customers are happy, and I can know that we went and did what we were supposed to and were very professional and gave an exciting, unique look at a fair and reasonable price. That’s where our main focus is—quality product, quality customer service and going the extra mile.”

Part of that extra mile includes follow-up service. Hagstrom uses technology to make sure his customers are happy. Since 2010, his point-of-sale system not only sends a delivery confirmation, but the customer also receives a picture of what was delivered.

“We really put our feet to the fire and stand behind what we do, and say, ‘This is the order that we took, this is what we delivered, this is an actual picture of that piece,’” Hagstrom said. “It’s all automated because I’m a real believer in technology. We’re the only florist that does that and people love it.”

Hagstrom says he has a broad mix of customers, and because they’re a community-based business, they try to give back when there is an opportunity, by doing things like matching funds for floral arrangements for religious institutions, or donating labor and time to help decorate nonprofit events.

Carter's Florist and Greenhouses by Kelly Nash Photography
Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses by Kelly Nash Photography

A source of pride for Hagstrom is that they are a brick-and-mortar store, where people can come in and check out the variety of imported flowers inside the coolers and greenhouses, and where staff members are on hand to help with questions or suggestions. Or, if people call in an order, Carter’s staff personally handles it from design to delivery.

“We’re not just an 800 service where we farm it out to somebody else and then it gets fulfilled through the internet. From the time an order is placed, we take care of it entirely until it’s fulfilled. We’re not your typical mom-and-pop shop. We’re a pretty complex organization,” he said.

“Our biggest focus is customer service, from the time we take the order until the time we deliver, and even thereafter,” Hagstrom said. “That’s what we’re really known for, our excellent and extraordinary customer service, and also our high-quality flower products that we bring in on a regular basis.”

Carter’s Florist and Greenhouses is located at 2200 22nd Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. For more information call 727-327-5568 or visit www.cartersflorist.com.

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