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Fresh as a daisy

By Meghan McCormick
The Norman Transcript

 

Dewight and Betty Lou Mitchell share more than the marital bond. They also have a love for flowers.

Walk inside their business, Betty Lou's Flowers and Gifts at 445 W. Gray St., and that's apparent. The room is filled with flowers.

Bundles of bright colored roses, tulips and carnations sit inside the store's cooler and can grab the attention from any point inside the store. And that's if a person is able to take their eyes off dozens of potted plants and flower arrangements placed around the room.

"We provide a service and ministry to people who have emotional needs," Betty Lou said.

This past week, the Mitchells celebrated a milestone. Their dream and floral shop turned 30.

It was March 19, 1979, when the couple turned their vision of owning a floral shop into reality. They opened Betty Lou's inside a 1,100 square foot building at 1812 W. Main St.

"The price was affordable and the location was well-suited for a florist shop," Dewight said. "The major equipment components, a delivery van and a walk-in refrigerator were purchased on credit. The cash flow projections were adequate, so a lease was set up for the building space, staff was hired and stocking the shop began."

He said the business stayed at its location in the Sooner Dairy Lunch commercial building for about five years. That's when Betty Lou's moved to 2001 W. Main St. The new dwelling was larger and could accommodate the growing business.

"After 18 years, Betty Lou's moved to 445 W. Gray," Dewight said. "Here, in the 4,000 square foot space, there is adequate room for the design space, the gift sales space and space for storage and administrative needs."

Betty Lou and Dewight's story dates back a little more than 45 years ago. Betty Lou grew up in far western Cimarron County. Dewight spent his childhood learning about farm life in Tillman County. The couple met attending Panhandle A--M College in Goodwell.

They married Nov. 28, 1963, in Boise City, and Betty Lou joked that they made a florist work on a holiday. Their wedding day fell on Thanksgiving that year.

Betty Lou said she and Dewight moved to Norman a year later. Dewight studied the MBA curriculum at the University of Oklahoma College of Business.

"We came to Norman for schooling at OU," Dewight said. "We then could see that there was no where else to live that fit our lifestyle, goals and opportunity needs."

That idea has stayed with them over the years.

"We feel so fortunate to be in Norman," Dewight said. "Norman has been good to us and for us."

Their daughters, Devonne Carter of Edmond, and Dewayna Petre of Broken Arrow, helped at the store just as it was opening.

"They were a part of it during the hard times," he said.

The Mitchells also have five grandchildren.

In addition to running a successful business, they have found time to serve their community as well. They have been members of the Norman Chamber of Commerce. Dewight said he served several years as treasurer of the Norman Rotary Club and two years as treasurer of the Oklahoma State Florists Association.

Betty Lou is a member of the Norman Business Association and Norman TIPS.

As time has progressed, Dewight said he's learned when to expect the busier days at the floral shop. Business always picks up around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and throughout the month of December.

He said a special part of the business is that he and Betty Lou have made friends with customers and employees over the years.

"Carla Wachel has completed 10 years as a designer for Betty Lou's," Dewight said. "Marsha Kelly had been a designer near Chicago for 15 years before moving to Oklahoma last year. Billy Winton, Marvin Sullivan and Paul Swenson take care of the deliveries. Donna Mooney helps with sales."

If anyone in Norman is worried about the couple retiring soon, don't worry. They plan to keep working for a while.

"We're not people to change," Betty Lou said.

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