Women in Business: Business bloomed through hard work, service and quality

Published 6:45 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Vicki Trimble always loved gardening – and when her flower arrangements began to draw raves from colleagues in the doctor’s office where she worked, an idea began to form.

Today, 18 years later, that idea has blossomed into one of Austin’s most enduring businesses.

The Hardy Geranium opened its doors in 2000, in the building at the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and Oakland Avenue that had previously housed a liquor store.

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“It sat empty for two years and I thought, this might be a good place” for her flower and gift shop.

Trimble, an Austin native, did her homework before she opened her business. She took a business course at Riverland Community College. Her instructor helped her develop a business plan and the study helped to prepare her for the opening of her shop.

But it was an uphill battle at first. There was plenty of competition – there were four flower shops in town at that time. And, shortly after she opened, “September 11th happened,” she said. “It was as if people were afraid to spend any money.”

“It was just me in the shop; my mom and dad would come and watch the shop when I had deliveries,” she recalled with a chuckle.

She endured, though. She expanded her lines over the years as she kept abreast of trends and customers’ wants. Today when customers walk into the shop, they’re greeted by an abundance of items that includes a wide array of gift and home décor items, as well as purses, clothing, accessories – even Hallmark greeting cards.

She no longer works alone, either. Staff includes Penny Bartesch, Jane Corkill, Denise Kamp and Kenzie Trimble. Additional delivery drivers are enlisted during the busiest days.

Outside, she has a garden center with garden accessories and accents, and provides storage for customers’ cemetery urns – which number about 300, she said. She and her staff fill and deliver the urns to the cemetery each spring; in the fall, they pick them up and store them. She and the crew also provide outdoor plantings for local businesses.

However, it’s in the back room where most of her business has grown — that’s where the designer in Trimble comes out. The business handles all manner of flower and plant orders for funerals, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, thank you’s and everything in between.

“And some days, we do all of those in one day,” she said. She also has a website through which customers can order flowers, and has Teleflora and FTD services.

The busiest days are Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Average deliveries on Valentine’s Day number about 450, she said.

“But Mother’s Day is the busiest, because it really goes on all week, whereas Valentine’s Day is pretty much that one day.”

Trimble continues to work hard – given the time of year, “it could be seven days a week,” depending on events. The busiest time of year runs from mid-November through Memorial Day.

Trimble has no thought of slowing down and clearly enjoys her operation and her hometown – evidenced by the almost $80,000 in items and services she has donated to groups over the years.

It’s no wonder that she named her shop after the hardy geranium, an enduring variety.

“I liked the idea that it was tough and would be around forever,” she said with a grin.

The Hardy Geranium is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Check out the shop’s website at https://www.hardygeranium.net/.

Business Name: The Hardy Geranium

What does the business do? Provides flower arrangements for local and wire delivery, garden center, gifts, home décor, clothing, accessories.

How long have you owned the business? 18 years

How long have you been in the profession? 18 years

What do you see as the single most important thing people see in your business? “Quality and customer service; it’s rare that we get a complaint.”

Women in Business