In the nearly 10 years that former casino workers Marcy and Lenny Kantz have operated South Jersey Florist & Gifts, they've found the Galloway Township business needs to be more like its growing, spreading plants than the cut flowers that are a florist's centerpiece.
Creating arrangements for weddings, funerals, corporate events and parties of all kinds is the foundation. And holidays are quite reliable, but fixed to certain times.
"From Dec. 1 on, it's amazing how it's like a bell has rung and people start ordering their holiday arrangements," Marcy Kantz said. "We start getting ready for the holidays six months prior."
One area South Jersey Florist has successfully branched out is renting live plants, not just selling them. Businesses such as Marriott's Fairway Villas and the Red Door Spa at Seaview Resort, both in the township, have the florist provide and care for large plants for a monthly fee - instead of buying them and struggling to keep them lush.
Kantz said that if a plant develops a problem, the shop replaces it with a fresh one.
"There's nothing worse, when you go out, to see a beautiful new place with dead plants," she said. "I walk up and give them my card. When you're in business, you're always working."
The shop also sells two styles of gift baskets: prepackaged ones featuring brands such as Starbucks Coffee and Godiva Chocolates, and custom-made baskets in popular configurations or according to customer specifications.
A fruit gift basket, for example, features produce acquired fresh that day from nearby Santori's Produce & Deli Market, she said. There's an Italian gift basket, and soon the shop will have specially ordered and branded caramel corn with little chocolate flowers.
On the gift side, the shop has candles, gourmet chocolates, jewelry and Avanti greeting cards. She said specialty coffee mugs are a big seller.
Leonard Kantz started working in a flower shop at age 14 to help his mom out after his father died, his wife said. He learned the business and later went to a horticultural school.
The couple moved to the shore from Philadelphia in 1982, working in the casinos and saving money to open the shop. Between work and their children, the shop didn't happen until 2004.
A few years later, the business was caught in the economic downturn.
"Flowers are a luxury," Marcy said. "Sandy also was a challenge. One of our biggest delivery runs is from Brigantine to Ocean City, and we felt that."
The shop has responded with bargains - a bunch of prewrapped flowers is $4.99, and on Fridays there is buy one, get one free - and working with customers to stay in their price range, she said.
South Jersey Florist got a big boost recently when TheKnot.com - a very popular wedding planning site - designated the shop one of its best on the basis of consistently high reviews from its customers.
Only a handful of flower shops in the region make the coveted Best of the Knot list.
According to TheKnot.com, the only others in Atlantic and Cape May counties are Primrose and Company in Somers Point; Pocket Full of Posies and Betina's at Parkview, both in Galloway Township; the Manic Botanic in Corbin City; and Coventry Crossing Florist in Stone Harbor.
The designation is bringing the shop to the attention of more brides from more places.
Marcy said South Jersey Florist has done lavish weddings from Philadelphia to New York.
Contact Kevin Post:
South Jersey Florist & Gifts
Location: 191 S. New York Road, Oceanville Station, Galloway Township
Owners: Marcy, 53, and Lenny, 52, Kantz, of Galloway
Employees: Owner operated with help of sons Stephen, 22, manager, and David, 25, both of Mays Landing
Revenue: Not disclosed
Phone: 609-404-1110 and 866-739-9800