AMERICAN FALLS — Whether it be roses, lilies or larkspurs, Impressions and Design has delivered colorful products to the American Falls community and surrounding area for decades.
But few may know that what is now a floral and home décor business of 35 years was once a basement endeavor started by Kathy Lindauer, who first started training to become a florist at 18.
Over the decades, Lindauer grew a business that now sits at 204 Roosevelt St., and in 2009, she passed the business to her daughter, Heidi Sprague.
“My mom called and said, ‘I want to retire, are you interested at all?’ And I was like, ‘yep!’” said Sprague, who started learning how to make floral arrangements from her mother when she was 16 and helped out at the shop for years.
Along the road, Sprague has expanded the products of the shop to include home décor and miscellaneous items ranging from bags of caramel apple cake mix to scented candles to homeopathic medicine, and she has also brought in several vendors from Idaho.
Some of these vendors include In the Pines, which is a Boise-based business that sells Idaho-themed apparel, and local author Erin Wright’s autographed novels, which are contemporary western romances all based in Long Valley, Idaho.
Another popular product she sells is ReThunk Junk resin paint, which she started stocking in the shop three years back and has proven to be a hit.
“I’m so addicted to this stuff,” she said. “It’s amazing paint … because you can paint furniture, metal, glass and fabric with it. It’s really versatile and super easy. You just prep and paint.”
Sprague said that as both a small business and a floral shop, expanding their inventory to offer more to customers helps keep them afloat, especially with the increase in online floral centers, which she says are little more than call centers.
“What’s killing us now is the online floral ones you order online,” she said. “They don’t know anything about flowers and they’re not florists; they’re call centers.”
Sprague explained that the online floral shops are more like middle men, and oftentimes customers will not receive what they see online for a few reasons. One of the reasons is the percentage that the online florist will take out of the total amount for their services, which lowers the total amount of expense left that will go into the product itself.
Florist shops then have to create an arrangement with the remaining cash, said Sprague, which puts a strain on the florist as they now have to make up a replica of the original arrangement the customer saw online.
“They will order a $50 arrangement (online) and they’ll see the big gorgeous over $50 arrangement and think that’s what they’re getting,” she said. “But that arrangement that I’m going to make is never going to look like the one that they saw online. I’ll use the same flowers, the same colors, and even though they’re always beautiful arrangements when they go out, when they see something (big) and they get something (small), then they’re mad. And a lot of times they’ll call and complain and the (online floral) company will call and say, ‘Customer complaint, we’re not paying you.’”
To remedy this, Sprague encourages people browsing for flowers online to make sure the shop they’re looking at is located in the town where they want the flowers delivered.
“Those are the actual flower shops you want to go to,” she said. “Those are supporting local businesses and that will help flower shops instead of hurting them.”
This focus on local community support is something that Sprague also weaves through her business, such as when she tries to hire high school students so they can get work experience in that will help with future jobs.
She also likes to help school fundraisers, giving sports teams and clubs the opportunity to run deliveries during busy holidays.
“It’s nice because … the best part of the job is when you give somebody flowers, they’re usually very happy,” she explained. “And it’s nice for the kids to do and the kids are really professional about it … and they enjoy doing it and then what happens (is) I’ll give them a percentage of all the sales. We keep track of how many deliveries they ran and then they get paid for all the deliveries they did. So it helps them for the fundraiser, it helps me, and I think it’s good for the community and I like the kids to get out there because I also know it’s hard to fundraise after a while.”
Sprague attributes the success of the shop to community and family support, which she says is important. Her mother will pop in to help out around the shop during stressful times, her father built countertops for the interior, and her two sisters who live in Boise will do deliveries when they are in town for the holidays.
She is also grateful for her staff, who recently managed the business for three weeks while Sprague was out of town and did a wonderful job, she said.
“I have really good staff and I’ve had good staff for years,” she explained. “I have great people that surround me and that’s what keeps everything going well. And you know we live in American Falls and we have a really good community. For instance, (my employee) Skylyn, her family, if I pick up the phone and ask them for anything they’d be right there to help me and that’s … how American Falls is.”
For people interested in the products of Impressions and Design, Sprague encourages that they check out their Facebook page for examples of flower arrangements they’ve done in the past.
They also have a website at impressionsanddesign.com that provides business information.
Impressions and Design is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and can be reached at 208-266-2566.