More than FlorALS
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The brick and mortar may have moved, but what hasn’t changed is the delightful experience you can expect each time you walk into Al’s Flowers.
Owner Al Cantrell’s larger-than-life personality makes you want to be his best friend. Having traveled around the world working alongside some of the best in the floral business, Al decided to go into business for himself and opened up Al’s Flowers on Woodley Road in 1987. A few years later the business moved to the corner of Carter Hill and Mulberry, but Al had his eye and heart on a location around the corner that he knew was meant for him. Last year, after a whirlwind six-week remodel, the shop opened the doors to its current location, 1926 Mulberry Street. It was a bit gutsy for him to buy the new building before he sold the one he was in, but he had a vision and made the move. “The building looks better, the parking is better, our selection is better, and when you come in the store we want to make sure you don’t just shop, but you have an experience,” Al says. The new location is a labor of love and the site is many years in the making. Friend and manager Beth Godwin describes it as a cozy little home and trust us, when you walk in and meet the team of ladies Al calls his “kitty cats,” you will feel like part of the family. The ladies joke that when Al calls for “kitty cat,” everyone answers because no one is really sure who he is talking to.
The evolution of Al’s Flowers is as vast as the years the shop has been in business. The new shop not only boasts a new location, but adds even more to the experience. In addition to floral arrangements, the charming cottage now offers a bridal registry and china. The bridal and china registry is Beth’s brainchild. She says, “I saw a need in Montgomery for there to be a traditional china business that there had been in Bromberg’s or Klein’s, with a personal touch. There is an online registry that we have now and it makes it convenient when a bride registers with us, then any of her friends that don’t live in Montgomery can still shop. We have people throughout the United States that shop with us. We have free delivery and free gift wrap.” While everyone pitches in to help the brides, the store has two employees, Dabney Albritton and Melanie Newman, dedicated to the china room. They are able to help mix and match different patterns to create a unique table setting for the new family. Al says, “People come and we talk with them. They trust us and we don’t tell them ‘oh well you need to get this’ because we are trying to make a sale. We help them think about what they need, practically and logically, and why they would get it.”
When you decide to register at Al’s, nothing is off limits. You can register for any gift in the store: lamps, china and furniture. If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, they have catalogs they can order from. The catalog isn’t just for a registry; Al and his staff will help you find furniture to add to your home as well: “We really work hard to make our customers happy...Women want to shop and have an experience when they go shopping and they want to browse around and look in nooks and crannies...We’ve got customers to who say ‘oh my gosh I’m going to do all my shopping here now,” Al explains. Ginny Haynes and Kim Pendley are the ones behind merchandising at Al’s, and their careful and meticulous work shows in the displays they create. Kim also creates floral arrangements alongside Lucy Johnson, and Angie Stallings assists in sales.
The registry isn’t the only exciting new development at Al’s; he has opened a print shop as well. From flowers to invitations, it’s now your one stop party shop! Al got a call on Thanksgiving 2017 letting him know that his former employer Richardson’s Pharmacy was closing its doors. After making another call, he was told they were looking to sell the print shop. In a matter of two hours, he had bought the print shop. Alice Fitzpatrick and Leslie Wakefield do a great job of helping customers select and design invitations for all occassions. We also love that they carry the Crane collection!
There are so many new and exciting things going on at the new location but one thing remains the same: the family atmosphere is evident the moment you walk in the door. “We all still enjoy coming to work every day. We’re a family. We were just sitting in a back room talking about what we are going to do next. Just because I own it doesn’t mean I’m it. I’m nothing without my employees and I get that. And I think everyone else gets that too,” Al says. It’s the warmth of a family that keeps generation after generation of customers shopping with Al. He shares, “I remember when some customers brought their children home and now their children are having babies. So I’m into third generations shopping with me.” Al has always been an advocate for shopping local and supporting the community. Beth says it best - “Once you’ve been in the store once or twice we’re going to know your name and it wouldn’t be that way at a big box store.”
Al is quick to credit Sarah Elizabeth Godwin and Anna Kate Linsey for keeping the social media up to par. His “likes” are growing, especially if he is in the photo. There is just something special about Al… people love and trust him. “I have customers who leave a key out for me to go in their house and do work. I have one customer that I’ve helped every year. They go out of town at Thanksgiving, leave me a key, and return to a beautifully decorated home.” Beth adds, “People say that they feel comfortable when they shop here. Whether customers need flowers, invitations, gifts or something from the bridal registry, they can call us and know they can buy their gift over the phone and we’re going to wrap it nicely and deliver it for them and they don’t ever have to run in. They can trust us.”
Business is booming but that doesn’t stop Al from looking toward the future, where he has several plans on the horizon. “I’m committed to the Mulberry District. I’ve had people want me to move out east but this is home. Mulberry is growing and we are working on trying to get more key businesses on the street to contribute to the neighborhood. I guess I’ll be here until I die. We’re a community and we’re here for a reason. Not just to make money, but we’re here to serve others.”
Let Al and his team help you with your shopping, decorating and floral needs, and feel their experience. Visit them at 1926 Mulberry Street or call them at 334-265-1125.
Pictured from L to R: Ginny Haynes, Anna Kate Linsey, Alice Fitzpatrick, Beth Godwin, Dabney Albritton, Melanie Newman, Leslie Wakefield, Kim Pendley. (Not pictured: Lucy Johnson and Angie Stallings