COLUMBIA — Caroline Baker knows flowers. After 40 years of experience in the floral business, Baker is now the manager of Busch’s Florist, which opened its Columbia location last summer. Baker knew of Busch’s long before she became manager, and considers it an honor to be working for such a well known name in the floral business.
Busch’s Florist is situated in a residential area of Paris Road and is part of a floral tradition in mid-Missouri that has been around for more than 117 years.
The store was founded in 1890 in Jefferson City by German immigrant Hugo Busch. Busch’s was family owned until current owners John and Gina Pelzer bought the store in 2001.
John Pelzer was working as a consultant for small businesses when the opportunity came along to buy Busch’s. He said they were looking to own a certain type of business, and Busch’s fit the profile.
“Who wouldn’t want to own a flower shop?” Pelzer said. “It was a great, well-established business that was available.”
The Pelzers opened a second location in Ashland in 2002, which he eventually moved to Columbia last August.
“About 60 percent of our Ashland customers were from Columbia,” John Pelzer said. “We saw that there was a growing market in Columbia, so we decided to close the store in Ashland and open one in Columbia.”
The Pelzers also expanded the store’s plant maintenance business. Busch’s maintains plants in many large offices in Columbia and Jefferson City. The Pelzers also expanded the wedding department of the business, which now includes a full wedding staff to consult and help couples with their wedding arrangements. Although wedding arrangements are very important, about 90 percent of business comes from individual arrangements.
John Pelzer noted that one of his top priorities as owner is to maintain the quality and dependability that the Busch family established over their many years of ownership.
“I think what sets us apart is our quality,” he said.
The Columbia store feels intimate compared to more commercial floral venues. Along with the standard flower and balloon displays, patrons will find angel figurines and statues and shelves of stuffed animals and candles. Busch’s also sells greeting cards, picture frames and vases. The Columbia store is much smaller than the Jefferson City location, which has been in the same place since 1920 and includes a greenhouse.
Along with flowers, Busch’s is also known for its angel figurines. Many people send angels by themselves without flowers, usually to funerals as gifts for the family as a memento, Baker said.
Baker said she has been pleased with the community’s response to the shop.
“A lot of people have passed by and wanted to come in and see what it is like, and they usually walk out with something,” Baker said. “We are starting to build a clientele.”
Baker said it’s very important to uphold the standards and quality of the original Jefferson City store.
“Busch’s is a well known name,” Baker said. “Once they know we’re here, they start patronizing us.”
Both the Pelzers and Baker have hoped that traffic on Paris Road has helped get Busch’s name out to the citizens of Columbia. Baker has received positive feedback about Busch’s more residential location from members of the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I want people to feel at home when they come here,” Baker said.
Baker said many customers enjoy watching stems and flowers transform into the arrangement they ordered.
“It’s hard work, but I enjoy it,” Baker said. “I like taking something as simple as a flower and making something beautiful out of it. It is rewarding.”
Busch’s Florist is located at 1610 Paris Road and is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The Jefferson City store is located at 620 Madison St.