Flowers By George celebrates 40 years

ARLINGTON Flowers By George opened its doors 40 years ago, on June 1, 1968, and since then George Boulton and his family and employees have created an institution of service in the Arlington community.

The business, now owned by Boulton's son, David Boulton, and managed by John McBride, will celebrate the anniversary of its opening this week, with a big party planned May 29, 30 and 31.

"How can you not support the kids?" George Boulton said when asked why he gives so much. "How can you not judge their floats when they ask? How can you not donate to their efforts?"

Boulton has seen a lot of changes in historic downtown Arlington. He has been on uncountable committees serving the youth and the community.

Even me personally, when I was a senior at Arlington High School in 1970, George Boulton supplied bundles of live flowers for the San Francisco-style flower stall for the centerpiece of the Junior/ Senior Ball decorations that I designed.

"I kind of miss all the fun promotions we used to do," Boulton said. Especially Crazy Days, when merchants dressed up in funny costumes during August.

"And the bed races," he said, laughing about the one-block race in front of his shop from Fourth Street south to Third Street at City Hall.

Boulton feels that there was more sense of community in those days when he first arrived in town.

"When we were unloading our stuff, we were flooded with welcome by members of the Methodist Church."

The Boultons have been active in the church, now the Arlington United Church, behind the store ever since.

George and his wife, Annalee, raised two sons, David and Kenneth, who spent free time watching PBS in Esther Teague's TV store next door, enjoying her homemade cookies.

"She was a good customer, because she bought flowers for every new business in town," George said. "Of course, in those days, a large bouquet of mums cost only $7.50," he said, noting that there were fewer choices of fresh flowers then.

They used to have all-night work parties making bouquets for Valentines, Easter and Mother's Day and corsages for the prom, graduations and even for football games.

"Technology has made it easier to work in advance," David Boulton said.

"Remember the big yellow A on the corsages for football games," said Debbie Tucker, who has been designing windows with help from David's wife Stacy for 16 years now.

Experts in merchandising, the flower shop in the 300 block of N. Olympic Avenue has always provided a bright spot on the street with well-designed window displays that change on a regular basis.

"I hardly ever go anywhere without hearing people mention our windows," George said, adding he took one marketing class and learned a lot through the national FTD organization, of which David is now an officer.

Since acquiring Pegs Floral, the store front has been remodeled three times, George said.

"The first thing we did was put flower baskets on the sidewalk in front of the building. When they rotted out, he put bricks on the front and a new awning. Most recently, during the recent reconstruction of Olympic Avenue, another new awning was designed and installed, and a new foundation was set under the front of the building.

George remembers when there were four dress shops in town as well as Penny's Department Store. There were two furniture stores, and two shoe stores, and a shoe repair shop, he said.

Flowers By George has left a legacy of florists who got their start working in high school. David himself started working even before he was 16, sweeping floors and riding with the delivery driver's. He remembers the day he got his drivers license and jumped into the van to deliver flowers.

"I started working here on holidays before I could drive. I always liked the camaraderie of the staff and the customers," David said. He never completed college because he was too busy helping with the family business. He did enjoy the opportunity to study floral design in Los Angeles, however.

"It was my chance to get out of town and develop my confidence," David said.

David is following in his father's footsteps of service, currently serving as past-president of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce.

But the Flowers By George legacy reaches much further than family and employees.

As a founding member of an Arlington branch of Dollars for Scholars, as the chair of the committee to pass a bond for the new library, as an active member of the city's current economic development committee, and co-chair of the advisory commission for the Byrnes Performing Arts Center, the so-called retired George Boulton continues to provide opportunities to so many people and the Flowers By George team continues to enhance quality of life in downtown Arlington.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 29, 30 and 31, they will be giving long-stemmed roses and 40 percent discounts to those who stop by the shop to help celebrate their 40 years of business.

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