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Season’s Change At Julia’s Florist

By Johanna F. Still, posted Feb 3, 2023
Current owners Jason (from left) and Katelyn Moore, and former owner Dana Cook stand inside Julia’s Florist in Wilmington. The shop is preparing for Valentine’s Day, which is by far its busiest holiday. (Photo by Madeline Gray)
Longtime Julia’s Florist owner Dana Cook has given her most loyal employees their well-deserved flowers. On Dec. 22, Cook handed the city’s largest flower shop over to new co-owners, Katelyn and Jason Moore. 

The Moores had worked for Cook for more than a decade. Guiding each side of the business, Katelyn Moore had been Julia’s operations manager and Jason its delivery manager. 

“He came with the business,” Katelyn Moore said of her now-husband, who started in the spring of 2008, several months before Cook purchased it that October.

“I used to tease them – they need to get married to make my life easier,” Cook said of the couple. Jason Moore’s motto, Cook said, was, “I’m just delivering sunshine every day.”

“He was just great,” Katelyn Moore said of her husband, who she met at Julia’s. “And the girls here were great. They’re my best friends still.”

The seed to run a flower shop was planted early in Cook’s childhood. Next door to her father’s hardware store was a florist, a place Cook frequented. “At 11 or 12 years old,” she said, “it just seemed like the best place to be.” 

At one point, her father turned down an offer from the owners to buy the shop. The missed op-portunity prompted Cook decades later to inch herself onto the previous Julia’s owner’s radar. “Every time I walk into a florist, I’m instantly brought back to that 11-year-old child’s perspective,” she said. “And I always instantly place myself back in that florist.”

Cook visited Julia’s to purchase a bouquet for her mother and told the owner to keep her infor-mation on file.

By 2008, she got the call; the prior owner had held onto a photo of her check among a stack of other prospective buyers’ information.  

With the Moores holding down the operation’s roots, Cook said she doubled Julia’s business and staff during her tenure. “They both worked tirelessly and were completely dedicated to my vision and to the success of Julia’s Florist,” she said. “Someone said to me the other day, ‘Wow, they got a good deal.’ And I said to them, ‘Oh, believe me, they earned every bit of it.’”

Katelyn Moore was looking for a change after working restaurants and late-night gigs behind the bar when she first applied in 2009.

“I saw a listing on Craigslist and came in, and Dana and some of the girls in there were blowing up balloons and making flower arrangements. I was like, ‘Oh, this looks lovely,’” she said. “It is lovely, but it’s also really hard work, which was kind of good too because when you do restaurant work, that’s a lot of hustle.”

Being a part of milestone moments, whether it be weddings or funerals, is something she takes se-riously, Katelyn Moore said. 

While she said she’s always wanted to run her own business, she wanted to make sure it was something that could make her happy daily. “It’s one of those industries that, if you love it, you love it, and you want to keep doing it,” she said.

After Katelyn Moore approached Cook around 2019 with the idea of taking the helm, the team spent the past few years working toward a transition plan. “The last few holidays Dana has been gracious enough to kind of step back and make sure we felt comfortable doing it,” Katelyn Moore said. “I know I always can reach out to her when I have any questions.” 

As Valentine’s Day nears, Katelyn Moore said she’s well prepared to handle the store’s busiest time of year. “It’s definitely special that it’s going to be our first time really 100% handling it on our own,” she said. 

After all, she’s been gearing up for the annual blossom in business since the summer. “We’ve al-ready ordered our rental trucks and our refrigerated trucks and all the big details, those are all taken care of,” Katelyn Moore said. “And now it’s just letting everything fall into place and finding some extra staff to come in and help with the little details of things that take so much when we’re doing four or five times our daily business.”

Though holidays still provide a boost, the business isn’t as reliant on them as it once was. “I re-member when I bought the florist in 2008, the dreaded July and August lull,” Cook said. “Every-body was bored out of their minds. That’s when you got deep cleaning done.” 

But since around 2012, the shop has remained busy year-round. 

With the new ownership, customers won’t notice a difference in operations, the Moores and Cook said. Katelyn Moore said she plans to bring back the store’s flower grants program, stalled by the pandemic, which entails the shop donating flowers to nonprofits during events that can be auctioned off to raise funds. She also hopes to beef up the staff of 14 full-time employees and expand basket-style offerings and other corporate gift options. 

Although Cook will still pop in to help or check in – she’s been retained as a consultant for the first three months of the transition – she said she’s ready to step aside.

“I can’t think,” Cook said, “of a better way to have spent the last 15 years.”
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