It can be a difficult path for small business owners who are looking to open up shop in a still struggling economy. It helps if you can bring more than 30 years of experience and a loyal clientele with you.
Tim Jackson is the owner of Chalet Florist, which opened in November on Harlem Avenue in the Palos Heights storefront previously occupied by TJ Grinders. It’s a new location for Jackson, but far from a new job.
Jackson started working in floral arrangement in high school, and after winning an award, decided this was the career path for him. When it came time to move, his hometown of the last seven years looked like the perfect fit.
“There is a lot of walk-in traffic,” Jackson said. “The other businesses have been very welcoming and the community in general has been very welcoming.”
First opened in 1981, Chalet Florist was previously located on Cicero Avenue and 85th Street in Chicago. In June of last year, an armed man came into the shop and robbed the store.
Jackson, who was the only person in the store, was shot in the face and arm.
“It is fortunate that no one else was there at the time,” Jackson said. “I am certain he would have killed them.”
The shooter was never apprehended.
"It could have happened anywhere," Jackson said.
For Jackson, there was little question as to whether he would open a florist shop again. After all, he says it’s the only thing he knows how to do.
Setting up the new shop in Palos Heights was therapeutic and an opportunity to return to relative normalcy, he says. Jackson was aided in the early stages of the new location by a team of devoted helpers. His wife, sister, family and friends like Larry and Susan Mish of Palos Heights all pitched in.
Jackson lost the use of his hand for several months. Using willpower and plenty of rehabilitation work, he was able to return to his craft.
“My main goal was to be able to tie a bow again, and now I can make a bow,” Jackson said.
He can make much more than bows. The shop is a full-service florist servicing everyone from Valentine’s Day shoppers to brides-to-be.
It can be a unique experience playing a pivotal role in some of the most important days in a customer’s life.
“[Weddings] are a very labor intensive process; everything is timed,” Jackson said. “It is a lot of stress, but is a lot of fun.”
Mark Coda has been Jackson’s driver for 10 years and counts himself lucky to work in a place like this.
“The family atmosphere is really good and working with Tim has always been a pleasure,” Coda said. “Tim is the best boss I have ever had, and that is why I have stayed for 10 years.”
The florist business has changed in the past three decades. Jackson has seen grocery stores become big players and online ordering becoming the norm.
Jackson says his client base from his former location has remained loyal and that he looks forward to meeting new customers in Palos Heights.
Chalet Florist is located at 12250 S. Harlem Ave. in Palos Heights. They can be reached at 708-448-3333 or online.