Faust leads flower shop as old as the city

Published 12:51 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Nine years ago, Alabaster resident Linda Faust became the most recent owner of a business at least as old as the city itself.

Though the city has seen a plethora of changes since a pair of sisters decided to open the Alabaster Florist business in the 1950s, the business’ location and offerings have remained the same.

“I know the business is at least as old as Alabaster, because at one point the city jail was under the shop,” Faust said. “The business has always been right here, and it has always been Alabaster Florist.”

Faust said she decided to take the reins of the generations-old business when it came up for sale in the early 2000s. She had experience helping out in a floral shop while she was in college, and said owning the business seemed like an “interesting thing to do.”

The business sells nearly every type of floral arrangement available, balloons, candy and other decorative and celebration-oriented items.

Nearly all the flowers the business uses in its arrangements are purchased from vendors in Birmingham and Montgomery. Because Alabaster Florist is a small, locally owned business, it is difficult for the business to order flowers straight from the growers, Faust said.

Over the years, Alabaster Florist has also seen significant changes in the way customers place their orders. When the business opened in the ‘50s, nearly all orders were placed either in person or by phone.

The advent of the Internet opened up a new avenue for the business to interact with its customers, but it also created some new challenges, Faust said.

“We still get a few walk-in customers, but most want to either call or go online and order,” Faust said. “But some people automatically assume that you have everything that is listed on your website in stock. It’s just not possible to have every flower and every container available all the time.

“If they call, we can talk with them and talk about making minor substitutions for flowers we don’t have in stock,” she added.

Like many businesses, the floral industry has marked busy and down months. Alabaster Florist sees regular business from families of patients at Shelby Baptist Medical Center and local funeral homes, such as Southern Heritage and Bolton Funeral Home.

Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day typically brings the business a spike in sales, but the summer months can be slow, Faust said.

“There really isn’t one type of business or one event that we bank on. It takes all of it,” she said.

Faust said she views her location in the older part of the city as an advantage.

“I own my building here. I don’t have to pay rent like the stores in the (Colonial Promenade) shopping center,” Faust said. “I’m more of an older building kind of person. It seems like all the newer stores are just brass, glass, steel and concrete. They just throw them up as fast as they can.”