McAllisters hope future includes Jeannette's

ERIC WALKER/The Mayfield Messenger

Emma and Laddie McAllister are shown in their Jeannette's Flower Shoppe gift area. The couple are preparing for retirement and a Saturday auction at the florist location on South Ninth Street. A Jeannette's Flower Shoppe has existed in Mayfield for 87 years.

For 87 years, there has been a Jeannette's Flower Shoppe. In that time, there has been one "Jeannette" - original owner Jeannette Barnett - and a dozen other owners.

Current owners, Laddie and Emma McAllister, hope the next owners will keep that legacy alive for perhaps another 87 years and beyond.

The McAllisters are retiring after 26 years of operating the florist business, located at 315 S. 9th St.

"W. P. Henley and Buddy Rhew owned it 17 years and we've owned it longer than anyone," Laddie McAllister said.

An auction is planned at the site Saturday, but it is the McAllisters' hope that Jeannette's will continue to be a vibrant local business and serve its customers in the same way they have since taking it on in 1993.

"We'd like to see it go on. We'd hate to be the ones to close it down," Laddie said. "But we said we'd get out at 65, then we said we'd get out at 70, then we said we'd get out at 75. Guess who's knocking on the door of 75? I am!"

McAllister had been the national parts manager for Nissan, based out of Memphis, then moved to Louisville where he partnered and opened a Nissan materials handling dealership. Eventually, he and Emma then decided to return to their native Mayfield home and look for a business for Emma to operate.

"She had an interest," in the florist business, Laddie said. They purchased Jeannette's from Betty Stallins with the plan that he would work at Jeannette's for a year and then look for his own line of work.

"I wasn't interested in staying in the flower business, however it turned out to be very good," he said. "It was better for me to stay than go.

"I agreed to stay reluctantly," McAllister said with a laugh. "But I'm not sorry I did. I've enjoyed it."

It has meant long days. He said he and Emma worked seven days a week for the first two years of ownership, and have taken just one 3-day weekend off as owners.

"That's what you have to do to succeed," McAllister said. "You have to have that work ethic and treat people the way you want to be treated."

And they thanked the community for their support and loyalty.

"The people of Graves County and Mayfield have been really supportive of us over the years," Laddie said. "It doesn't go without being noticed. I'd like for them to know the appreciation we feel."

Their future plans include a full retirement for Emma and more time with their only grandchild. But after years of starting the day at 6 a.m. with office work and then handling customer orders and needs, Laddie said he plans to at least incorporate some part-time work into his schedule.

"I don't want to just sit at home," he said.

But they also want that future to have a Jeannette's Flower Shoppe in it.

"It's bittersweet for us," Laddie said. "We certainly are hoping that it continues on."

Eric Walker is the news editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.