Flowers Just 4 U makes urgent appeal to community after being hit with 14 day eviction notice.
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Only Black owned florist in the Pacific Northwest faces doors closing for good in 13 days.
Today the clock is ticking on the Pacific Northwest ‘s only Black owned florist as she faces eviction from her shop and the closure of her business on 23rd and Cherry due to her rent falling into arrears and after 35 years in business, the shop owner, Mary Wesley, who is in her late 70’s is looking potential financial ruin in the eye.
To understand Flowers Just 4 U’s dire situation you have to go back a few years and look at several turn of events many of which were out of her control that impacted her business.
23rd Avenue Construction
Flowers Just 4 U was first impacted when the City of Seattle began sidewalk upgrades and bike lane construction on 23rd Ave and South Jackson, the exact location where Flowers Just 4 U was located for decades. According to Wesley, the construction impacted her business for nearly 18 months and cost her over $60,000 in damages. Although the City of Seattle did give Wesley $25,000, that amount did not offset the monetary losses to her business and also set off a spiral of events that have found Flowers Just 4 You in a financial crisis.
The relocation to 23rd and Cherry
Flowers for you thrived for years on the intersection of 23rd and Jackson. That intersection for years has been a hotbed of business with the Promenade 23 shopping plaza as well as a Starbucks and a Walgreens just across the street from Flowers 4 U, there was always ample foot traffic as well as abundant parking.
Enter the Jackson Heights affordable housing development. When Community House, the property owner where Flowers Just 4 U was located decided to build on their land, Flowers Just 4 U was displaced to make way Jackson Heights, the 74 unit affordable housing complex opening early next year. Flowers Just 4 U moved just down the street to 23rd and Cherry. Unfortunately, the location on 23rd and Cherry is less desirable for a retail location, despite having a prime corner location, the lack of parking and the fact that as opposed to 23rd & Jackson which is a commercial hub in the Central District, 23rd & Cherry is adjacent to Garfield High School and a gas station, neither of them offer near as much foot traffic as the previous location. Wesley has indicated that she would like to return to 23rd and Jackson and move into the new Jackson Heights building once it opens in a few months. Wesley said that she has reached out to Jackson Heights on a few occasions but there has been no marked progress as of yet in regards to Flowers Just 4 U securing a retail location there.
Bonney-Watson / Southwest Mortuary
For most of Flowers Just 4 You’s 35 years in business, providing flowers for Black funeral homes was a core part of the business. Traditionally, Black funeral homes supported Flowers Just 4 You, a Black woman owned business.
However, In 2014, Bonney-Watson, purchased Black owned funeral home Southwest Mortuary and things started to change rather quickly for Flowers Just 4 U. According to Wesley, initially, Bonney-Watson told her that despite their new ownership of Southwest Mortuary, Bonney-Watson would still support Flowers Just 4 U. However, according to Wesley, not too long after the acquisition, Bonney-Watson again approached her and this time said that they were going in a new direction, one without Wesley or Flowers Just 4 U.
“When Black people go for their (funeral) services, they (Southwest Mortuary) don’t consider me at all” says Wesley.
Which means that although a high number of Black people use Southwest Mortuary, the only Black owned florist in the entire Pacific Northwest is not even in the running for any of that business.
According to Wesley, Bonney-Watson had a master plan all along, she says that Bonney-Watson has their own flower shop that they lease out and that the leadership at Bonney-Watson basically took “my business and gave it to this guy” to run, effectively cutting into a large part of her business revenue.
What Flowers Just 4 U needs
Wesley needs to raise just under $6000 to stave off the pending eviction, however, that is only a short term fix, What Wesley is really seeking is a fair shake after being hit once with the damages done by the City of Seattle construction and again by Bonney-Watson / Southwest Mortuary no longer doing business with Flowers Just 4 U.
Here is how you can help:
You can give directly to a GoFundMe that has been organized to help gather the funds for the back rent and stave off the eviction. You can donate by clicking here https://www.gofundme.com/f/4v5azw-save-our-flower-shop?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1
If you buy flowers, especially in the Central District or Capital Hill, swing by Flowers Just 4 U first. Some things are out of stock as you can imagine Wesley has not been able to keep a full inventory during this financial crisis but if you don’t see the flowers you want that day, perhaps you can purchase a plant or card or balloons or at a minimum give Mary Wesley a hug and offer her some encouragement.
Can't make it buy the shop? You can order flowers through her website and they can be delivered to any address in the USA by BloomNation, Flowers Just 4 U will get a commission. You can visit the website here https://seattleflowersjust4u.net/
Contact Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant’s office and see what help they can offer, Flowers Just 4 U is in the heart of District 3, Sawant’s district and Wesley's problems initially started with the loss she suffered during the City of Seattle’s construction on 23rd Avenue (unfortunately several businesses were also impacted). Also Email Mayor email@example.com and Director of Office of economic development firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask your pastor at your church to remind the parishioners to make an extra effort to support the only Black owned a flower shop in the Pacific Northwest.
If you are doing business with Southwest Mortuary, request that they specifically work with Flowers Just 4 U.
Wesley is in her late 70’s and wants the business to live on for years to come. Are you an investor that would like to potentially partner with Flowers Just 4 U? Contact Black Dot Underground.
Wesley is a professionally trained florist with literally decades of experience and expertise. Do you have a youth group that could benefit from learning from Wesley and Flowers Just 4 U? Contact Black Dot Underground.
10. Do you have business developing or marketing skills (interior decorating, graphic design, digital marketing) that you would like to contribute to Flowers Just 4 U join the team that will help take this legacy business into the future. Contact Black Dot Underground
Calling all community: “I am still here”
Ultimately, Mary Wesley just wants to sell flowers and make beautiful creations and for her business to remain a place where the community can purchase flowers for all occasions. The biggest way that we can ensure that Flowers Just 4 U stays in business is for the community to intentionally support the business and understanding that after seeing Black business after Black business that closed it's doors in the Central District, we don't want to see her's go. I am sure that returning to her old location on 23rd and Jackson in the Jackson Heights building wouldn't hurt either.