John Van Deinse, a third-generation florist from Long Island, N.Y., bought The Flower Cupboard 25 years ago and, over the years, has built a reputation for customer service and the freshest seasonal flowers. The full-service florist has been on Cary Magazine’s Maggy list since the awards were launched in 2006.
The business was a fixture of downtown Cary, until its building on East Chatham Street was demolished in 2015. Van Deinse moved The Flower Cupboard to its present location in Preston Corners, a spot more central to his customers.
Although he still has people saying, “I thought you were gone,” Van Deinse isn’t going anywhere. Flowers are in his blood, he says, and he is out delivering flowers every day, just as he did when he was in college, working with his father and grandmother.
How did you land in Cary?
I actually went and got a four-year degree in political science to escape the family business, and then I realized I had no passion for being an attorney.
I didn’t escape the family business, but I escaped New York. I spent part of my honeymoon in ’91 with good friends in Marietta, Ga. And it was the first time I thought, “You know, Long Island, N.Y., is not the center of the universe. I could work anywhere, but where could I do it and have a better quality of life?”
I didn’t know anything about Raleigh, but I bought this “Places Rated Almanac.” I kept seeing how Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill — all lumped together — stacked up against other places. I had a bad day in the summer of ’94, and I called my wife up, and I said, “Rent a car. Let’s go see what Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is.” So, we came down here, and it felt so much like home that 90 days later, we were living here.
What is your secret to long-term success?
I have such a strong guarantee, if someone calls me up two weeks after the fact and says, “You know, that last dozen roses didn’t last.” I’ll replace it. Because if you’re disappointed, I’m disappointed. It doesn’t happen often, but we respond, with every resource we have, to make it right.
If it wasn’t for the service aspect, we’d be gone.
Do you have a favorite flower?
For the longest time, a lot of people thought my business name was Nobody Has Better Roses, because that was my motto.
If I could make a living just selling roses — I love all flowers, but I love roses. As a business owner, I love the perceived value of a good quality rose. I wish I could be “John Van, the Rose Man,” but I can’t. Not enough people will call me up, and it’s not about price either. If I could come up with a game plan and instead of $69.95 for a dozen roses, sell them all day long for $49.95, if that’s what it took to make a smaller margin and just specialize, I would do it.
What do you like about the business?
One of my taglines I like is “Goose bumps delivered at no extra charge.” That speaks to me. I do a lot of deliveries, because it’s one of the more gratifying things — I want the feedback. I’m disappointed if I go out on a run with a half-dozen arrangements, and I’ve only personally handed flowers to two out of six. I’m disappointed, because I really love that feedback — it never gets old. More often than not, I get the “Wow” response, and that’s what we live for. It’s really nice.
When everything is said and done, because I don’t have a lot of Kodak moments in life, I really like that my flowers are part of that memory-making process. I really like knowing that we can be part of those major milestones. That’s a big deal.
4216 N.W. Cary Parkway, Cary
- Act Naturally
- Mr. Cary Spirit
- The Not-So-Secret Sarah P. Duke Garden
- Nonprofit Spotlight: White Oak Foundation
- Best of Both Worlds
- Small Business Spotlight: The Flower Cupboard
- From the Editor: March 2020
- Alex & Teresa’s Pizzeria & Trattoria
- Worth the Drive: A Fresh Look at Calabash Seafood
- Liquid Assets: Spring Bock by Carolina Brewing Company
- Liquid Assets: Raymond Fairchild Root Beer White Lightning
- Garden Adventurer: Scadoxus, for the Gambling Gardener
- On Trend: Buzzworthy Bee Supplies