The Commerce Journal

June 4, 2013

New life blossoms

Owner of Bickham Florist closes doors to join husband in retirement

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — The second oldest florist shop in Hunt County will soon be closing its doors.

After owning and operating Bickham Florist for 10 years, Gladys Gray, owner of Bickham, said she will be joining her husband, Jack Gray, in retirement this month,

Mrs. Gray said it will be a bittersweet moment when the doors close, because her memories of the florist predate her owning it.

“I worked for the Bickhams for a number of years in the 70s,” she said. “They were delightful people.”

Bickham Florist opened its doors in Commerce in 1929, and was owned and operated by B.P. (Cujoe) and Kathleen Bickham.

The Grays moved away from Commerce for a number of years, and owned the Mesquite House of Flowers for four years.

When the couple moved back to Commerce and saw that Bickham Florist was up for sale in 2004, Mrs. Gray said she wanted to keep the business open and continue the legacy of the store.

“It was an honor to have been able to work for them. They taught me a lot,” she said. “It made it very special to me so when it came up for sale I wanted to buy it.”

It was located at 2001 Live Oak Street for 75 years before Mrs. Gray moved it to 1510 Live Oak Street in 2006.

When she moved the location, she wanted to keep as much memorabilia as she could from the old location, including a more than 70-year-old zinc top where the flowers are cut.

“Cujoe was always very proud of the fact that it was a zinc top on it,” she said.

The newer location was formerly a doctor’s office that belonged to the late Dr. Henry Harris. Mr. Gray said the building has an interesting history, because “coincidentally, he was close friends with the Bickhams.”

According to Mrs. Gray, the transition from doctor’s office to floral shop was not a hard one to make, considering all of the rooms had faucets.

During her 10 years at the florist, Mrs. Gray had many customers walk through her doors. Whether it was for graduations, funerals, weddings, or just someone wanting to surprise their love, Mr. Gray said every customer was special to his wife.

“She puts extra effort into her work,” he said. “She worries about the customer’s happiness and wants to make sure the flowers are memorable.”

Mrs. Gray said although she has loved running the florist shop all these years, it was time for her and her husband to move on to their next stage in life and work on their “bucket list.”

“We want to travel some and see our grandchildren more,” she said, adding that she also wants to write a cookbook filled with family recipes that both of her daughters can pass down.

Mrs. Gray has been in the floral industry for more than 30 years, with more than half of them spent in Commerce.

With big events held year-round that required special flowers, every day was an adventure in the business, she said.

“No two days are the same in the floral industry,” she said.

The Grays will be hosting a “Retirement Liquidation Sale” from June 4 through June 14.