MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Flowers can incite emotions when words are not enough. Just as a rose represents love because of its beauty and healing capabilities, The Mahopac Flower Shop exemplifies devotion and kindness to the Mahopac community, thanks to the values of co-owners Michael Bothe and William Fitzgerald. The Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce will recognize the professional accomplishments and community contributions of the partners by recognizing them as the 2016 Business People Meritorious.
“Michael and Billy are fantastic people,” said Lillian Melchner of Mahopac Marine, a past Business Person of the Year recipient. “They provide incredible customer service and have contributed so much to so many nonprofits. They also volunteered for years during Christmastime to decorate the gazebo at Mahopac Chamber Park.”
Bothe and Fitzgerald have given their time, talent and flowers to organizations such as the Chamber, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, Relay for Life of Mahopac and the Girl Scouts.
“I adore them,” said Christine Stack, founder of Freezin’ for a Reason, an event that benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “In 2001, I walked into their shop, told them about the story of 65 roses and its connection to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and asked if they would be interested in participating in it for Freezin’. They did that year and continued to do so every year after that. Michael and Billy are funny, kind and are just good human beings.”
Tracey Walsh, community director of Relay for Life of Mahopac, agreed with Stack.
“Michael and Billy are two of the most giving people I know,” she said. “They create the purple ribbons that people purchase to decorate their homes or buildings to show their support for Relay for Life. They go out of their way to help in any way they can.”
There is a psychic to thank for Bothe, 57, and Fitzgerald, 75, setting up their flower shop in Mahopac almost 28 years ago.
“About a month before we found our shop in Mahopac, Billy went to a psychic who told him that a standalone building with a dirt drive would lead him to success,” recalled Bothe. “We went looking at places in Westchester and Greenwich, but when we walked into [the shop on Route 6 in Mahopac] I knew that this was where we were meant to be.”
Three years later the two moved from Westchester, bought a house in Mahopac and became pillars of the community.
Bothe, a Michigan native, believes that one of the main reasons that Mahopac Flower Shop has been so successful is the partners follow the cardinal rule that the customer is always right.
“They are, no matter what,” Bothe said. “There have been times that people have not liked the flowers. As an owner, you cancel the order and send them more flowers. It is like being in the food business. If someone doesn’t like the food, they aren’t going to pay for it.”
The store owners even go above and beyond when an error is not their fault.
“One Valentine’s Day we got a bad bunch of roses; the heads of the roses started to droop after a few hours,” said Bothe. “After we got a few complaints, we got in touch with every order we could track on paper and replaced the flowers. It was the right thing to do.”
Once a bride forgot to order a bouquet for one of her bridesmaids.
“The bride realized it while she was getting dressed,” said Bothe. “We ran back to the shop, created a similar looking bouquet to match the order and met everyone at the church. When the bride got back from her honeymoon she called to thank us and wanted to pay for the additional bouquet. I told her not to worry about it, that it was done and that the important thing was that her wedding day went great.”
While there are many floral services out there that allow people to order flowers online and have them delivered by the closest florist, Mahopac Flower Shop does not participate in them.
“Those services misrepresent your company and take your money,” Bothe said. “We are not members of any of those services. People call us up, stop into the shop or place orders online with us directly.”
He added, “We are a mom and pop store. People that find us, stay with us.”
Bothe and Fitzgerald have a business that caters to generations of families.
“You always take care of the children because they are your next generation of customers,” Bothe said. “The kids pay attention to where their parents shop and will continue to shop there. We have older customers who have moved away, but their kids still come here for their flowers.”
A recent event that Bothe and Fitzgerald designed the floral displays for was the wedding of a bride whose mother first started using Mahopac Flower Shop 28 years ago, while she was pregnant her.
Many of Mahopac Flower Shop’s customers have community ties to the store.
“Both Michael and Billy have been extremely generous to the Chamber Scholarship Night, always donating their time and flowers to provide the recipients boutonnieres or corsages,” said former Chamber board member Pam Zacotinsky, who co-chaired the scholarship committee. “But the memory I cherish of them is realizing it was the Saturday before Mother’s Day and I had this huge trunk in my vehicle, which needed to be wrapped for my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. Of course, I waited until the last minute. I pulled up in front of Mahopac Flower Shop, approached Michael with a smile and in less than two minutes he was in the middle of Route 6 with scissors and ribbon. They provide the best customer service ever.”
In addition to creating floral displays for events such as weddings and funerals, Mahopac Flower Shop has corporate accounts. It was responsible for the floral displays at Neiman Marcus in White Plains for 11 years before the store’s parent company went public and cut the displays from the budget.
Mahopac Flower Shop also has the traditional holiday offerings.
“We are already anticipating using 3,000 roses, but we may need as many as 5,000 roses to get through Valentine’s Day this year before we sell out of them,” Bothe said.
“Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year. Men are stupid and they forget, so we will see a bump in business,” he added with a chuckle.
Mahopac Flower Shop is located at 603 Route 6 in Mahopac. Orders can be placed in-person, by calling 845-628-2949 or online at mahopacflorist.net.
The 2016 Business People Meritorious award will be given to Bothe and Fitzgerald on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Putnam County Golf Course. Ticket information is available through The Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, which can be reached at 845-628-5553.