Whitefish’s Family Florist

By Beacon Staff

WHITEFISH – In the same way flowers are a constant presence at almost every celebratory occasion, from weddings to birthdays, Mum’s Flowers has been a part of Whitefish for almost 50 years.

That tradition is intact and has been relocated and revitalized by an unlikely florist, 24-year-old Cara Finch.

Finch, a Whitefish native who took over a year ago without any experience in running a flower shop, has reopened the classic business in a remodeled space downtown on East Second Street.

Brightly lit and filled with the aroma of fresh flora, the new Mum’s is a colorful arrangement with an old-fashioned design. Last week’s grand reopening showcased the new look that has taken Finch a year to complete.

“It’s cool to be part of a business that’s been with the community for so long and serving the community for such a long time,” she said.

“It was a gamble when I bought it. I thought ‘Oh hopefully this works out’ and it has. I love it more than I thought I would.”

Finch returned to her hometown after graduating with a business degree from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif., but found herself struggling to find a job in a valley hit hard by recession. She worked as a secretary before the opportunity at Mum’s came about and she took it.

Mum’s has been passed around different owners several times and moved from downtown near the Buffalo Café to Spokane Avenue and now back to the heart of town. Finch’s parents bought the business and the old Chamber of Commerce building last year and now rent it to their entrepreneurial daughter.

Cara Finch processes a fresh order of lilies at Mum’s Flowers in Whitefish. Finch said with a standing order of multi bloom lilies, there should always be some of the flower fresh and available.

Finch didn’t have a day of experience inside a flower shop. What she does have is an artistic trait passed down from her father and grandmother; a love for festive decorating; and a business-minded education. That’s all it’s taken, really. That and a whole lot of work.

“It was a leap of faith,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work. But I love it. It’s all been worth it. I feel like it makes me grow up fast.”

Finch had to learn on the fly, spending hours watching others create decorations and arrangements. She took classes, asked for advice and created a simple business model. She learned pretty fast that something as seemingly simple as flowers is more complex than people might realize.

“There’s so many facets to the business. It’s not just a retail business,” she said. “It’s a full service business. People call and an hour later we have flowers delivered to someone’s door.”

The hardest part deals with the flowers themselves. Perishable like food, flowers are ordered on a need-to-have basis by florists. But how do you know what you need to have? Some days require two deliveries, some days require 20, Finch said.

Summer time is the most consistently busy, with weddings bringing in the most business.

Last year, Mum’s provided arrangements for 56 events. The business broke even last year, one of Finch’s goals when she took over. The next goal was moving downtown, where Mum’s could return to being a part of the community’s core. With that accomplished, the next goal is growing the business, Finch said.

But although a lot has changed at Mum’s these days, Finch doesn’t want to change everything. When she took over, she said people were asking her if she would change the name and make it her own unique place.

“I thought about it a lot and I decided no,” she said. “I think it has a really strong presence here and I don’t want to take away from that. It needed a little facelift but I didn’t want to take away from it being this town’s staple.”