By Travis Sloat
Being business minded started at a young age for Shelia Bebee and Patti Simmerman, sisters who own and operate A Flower Can, a floral and gift shop in downtown Fort Gibson.
Bebee said when they were young and lived in Arizona, they started a stand selling a common drink served by kids, but with a twist.
“We sold lemonade and figs,” Bebee said. “We had a fig tree in our yard in Phoenix, Arizona, and we hated them, so we picked them and sold them.”
That sense of entrepreneurship followed them both to Oklahoma, where Shelia came for a two-week vacation, met her husband and decided to stay. Once there, Patti decided to come too, and they started training to become Oklahoma certified florists.
Simmerman said they started a flower shop in Muskogee about 15 years ago. After a short break, they soon found themselves back in the floral field.
“You can’t get away from it,” Simmerman said. “Even back in Phoenix, the flower shop was just a block away and we were always in there.”
A Flower Can was born in September 2010, and has already established an award-winning reputation.
One such award was for their business car, which is wrapped in a floral pattern advertising their shop.
They used the car in a Facebook promotion, which gave customers the opportunity to win a free rose for photographing the car. This earned them the “Innovator of the Year”award.
Bebee said A Flower Can is going through upwards of 1,000 flowers a week, and they offer many varied services.
“We do everything from weddings to funerals,” Bebee said. “We do deliver free to any local funeral home in the Fort Gibson/Muskogee area.”
She went on to say that because of the nature of the business, it’s important for them to remain empathetic to their customers.
“We’re very excited for brides and newborns,” she said. “But we’re also going to be somber and respectful for the loved ones of those that have passed on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, it is always very special when someone chooses us to do an arrangement.”
Emily Key said Bebee and Simmerman actually saved her wedding.
“I had chosen another florist in Muskogee to do my wedding,” Key said. “I could never get a solid answer on price until the last minute. The price was too high, and I couldn’t afford it, and the florist was not going to work with me at all.”
Key said she called A Flower Can, whom she had used before to get flowers for her mom, and the sisters stepped in and delivered in a pinch.
“In just a week, they got me the flowers I needed, and even sent me a text message the day before the wedding assuring me that everything was okay and congratulating me on my marriage,” Key said. “They are very sweet and very professional. I’d recommend them for anything.”
Simmerman said it’s just another day at the office.
“We try to treat everyone like they’re family,” she said. “Our main focus is customer service. We may not always get the sale right then, but many times customers come back to us repeatedly.”