WEST MILTON — After over 70 years in business, Patterson’s Flowers closed its doors over the weekend.
“After 60 years, I think I’ve paid my dues,” shop owner Bob Menker said. “I can’t keep up with everything — it wears you down fast.”
Patterson’s Flowers originally started in 1926 under a different name and was changed when former owner Pat Patterson took over the business in 1947. Menker began working for Patterson’s Flowers at 16 years old when his mother told him he needed to get a job and he wasn’t sure where to look for one.
“She said, ‘You like flowers, why don’t you go down to the flower shop and ask them?’ So that’s what I did,” Menker said. “I knew Mr. Patterson from being in the shop every once in a while, and when I asked him, he said, ‘Do you know the difference between a tomato and a cabbage plant?’ and I said yeah, and he said, ‘You got the job.’”
Menker started out mowing the grass on the first day, and he quickly moved into working in the shop at the front register on the second day as Mother’s Day weekend approached.
“At that time, gardening was a really big deal. People would buy four or five dozen tomato plants, a couple of dozen peppers and have huge gardens they would put out. That was before tray packs, so everything had to be dug out of a slat and plants were wrapped up,” Menker said. “It was quite an experience for me to be thrown into the retail world.”
In 1975, Menker bought the business from Patterson and kept the name of the business. He’s stuck with it since he was a teenager, saying that it’s a job he’s always enjoyed and that there was nothing he’d rather be doing. Menker has provided flowers over the years for weddings, funerals, homecomings, proms, birthdays, anniversaries, and every-day occasions in between it all.
“I first had one of my classmates come in with their daughter, to do a wedding, and I started to feel old. Then she would come back with her daughter to get married, and I’d really start to feel old. I’ve done some weddings for three generations,” Menker said. “It’s probably unique in that way compared to most other businesses, because you don’t have the personal contacts we do with people going through all these major events.”
Currently, Patterson’s Flowers is finishing up funeral arrangements and other orders through this week, but the last day to place orders with the shop was Friday, Oct. 1. Since announcing the shop would be closing, Menker said that many people have expressed interest in buying the business and keeping it in West Milton — something integral, since area flower shops in Tipp City and Englewood closed in the past, directing much of the need for flower arrangements to Patterson’s.
“Hopefully there will at least be a flower shop in town after this,” Menker said.
In his retirement, Menker says his wife, Charlotte, has lots of plans for travel and doing stuff together, while he has none outside of landscaping around their property on Calumet Road. The 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes had affected their property and in the process of fixing up the grounds, Menker said he’ll likely maintain a flower garden and is looking forward to the lack of pressure.
“That’s probably going to be my full-time job for the next several months,” Menker said. “People think the flower business is an easy-going thing, but you’re under the deadline.”
Menker added a thank-you to everyone who has supported the shop over the years with their business.
“We’ve had a lot of loyal customers and still have customers there. When I put out on Facebook that we were closing, we got so many hits of people saying, ‘Well, I’m sad it closed, but I’m happy for you.’ That’s how everyone seems to feel,” Menker said.