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May’s Floral Garden still flourishing after 50 years

Unique offerings help set Eau Claire garden center apart

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April 29, 2024

EAU CLAIRE – For nearly half a century, May’s Floral Garden – a family-owned and operated floral shop and greenhouse in Eau Claire – has offered a wide range of indoor and outdoor plants.

Larry Reit purchased May’s from its previous owner 50 years ago this summer.

His daughter, Brenda Polden, and her daughter, Morgan Storing, work alongside him.

“It’s rare to find three generations working together,” Polden said.

Selling an array of products from fresh-cut flowers and green plants to annuals and perennials and hard goods (including bistro sets, tables, benches and home décor items) – the trio is gearing up for the season.

During May, Polden said, the store is hectic with weddings, classes, Mother’s Day and prepping and selling garden plants.

“It’s our busiest month by far,” she said.

A peek inside

Polden said the 35,000-square-foot store, located at 3424 Jeffers Road, displays products in a home-like setting.

“We have our shop set up like a home to show how items would be displayed,” she said. “That way, people can envision what something will look like in their own home versus seeing products sitting on a shelf. May’s has a unique atmosphere people can feel.”

For customers searching for fresh flowers, Polden said May’s has a large walk-in cooler filled with available arrangements – which during the busy season could be upwards of 75 different options.

The store employs seven full-time workers and 10 part-timers.

“Our employees have a lot of knowledge that customers appreciate,” she said. “Our floral designers have more than 30 years of experience.”

That expertise and personalized service, Polden said, help May’s stand apart from big box retailers.

Another unique aspect of May’s, Storing said, is it carries several different kinds of green plants – which can be used inside on their own or outside as part of an arrangement in a flower pot.

“A lot of people are interested in green plants for their homes because they help improve air quality,” she said.

Christmas, Polden said, is a big deal at the shop – with decorating beginning after Labor Day.

“It takes us two months to get ready,” she said.

Classes

During May and November, Polden said May’s offers a variety of classes to help customers create personalized arrangements.

“In November, we do a lot of evergreen porch pots people can display throughout the winter,” she said. “And in May, it’s all about putting together an arrangement to take you through the summer. We have a lot of repeat customers (who) bring in their pots from the previous season.”

Polden said May’s offers both public and private class options. 

The store, she said, also does custom pot design – where customers drop their pots off and tell “us to put together something beautiful.”

Out in the yard

Polden said May’s sells a variety of annuals, perennials and green plants – with product availability changing frequently.

Storing said the store grows its annuals and perennials from plugs.

“We put baskets together, keeping in mind where people may want to display them, whether it’s a shade basket or something that gets more sun,” she said. “We try to put combinations together that will last an entire season.” 

Bright colors that provide a pop in the yard, Polden said, are a popular trend right now.

“Customers are looking for something unique,” she said. “I’ve noticed a shift away from pansies, and begonias are growing in popularity. People want their plants to last longer and have less maintenance. We stay up-to-date on the latest trends.”

Staff does this, Polden said, by attending shows annually to see what the likely trends will be for the coming year.

“We all have unique viewpoints, so between the three of us, I think we come away with a good mix of what to have in the store,” she said. “People like seeing our displays and how it’s pulled together.”

May’s Floral Garden, Inc. is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Learn more at maysfloral.net.

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