It’s the stuff of family legend: Lee and Velma McShan buy land on what was then rural Garland Road. With little more than patience and each other, they proceed to build a business. They landscape Casa View. They win the Neiman Marcus account. They put on spectacular floral displays and receive national attention.
Yet they manage to remain McShan’s Florist, an East Dallas mom- and-pop store, where every customer receives individual attention.
“I can remember the cotton fields, when Garland Road had two lanes,” says Bruce McShan, who was born 20 days after his parents moved to a frame house on the land and who now heads the company.
In those days, only one other store was within sight –- a small general store called The Trading Post — and public transportation meant taking a Greyhound bus from downtown.
That was half a century ago. Now a Dallas institution whose caladium-leafed logo is a common site on delivery trucks across the city, McShan’s celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.
McShan admits the family’s business practices are unusual. Unlike many other large operations, the store remains a hands-on family venture, where customers can always speak with a decision-maker in the business.
And the family claims to set no long-term objectives. They work instead from the simple daily goal of pleasing customers. “Flowers are the tangible conveyance of the intangible feeling of love,” Lee McShan used to say before his death in 1990. “Regardless of what we send flowers for, the message received is always love.”
The anniversary celebration will be low-key, McShan says, with a luncheon for current and former employees and refreshments for visitors to the store. But behind the understated celebration is a spectacular success story, one that saw an $11-a-day business transformed into what the family says is the world’s largest retail florist housed under one roof.
McShan credits the store’s growth to his father’s work ethic. He believed in doing business by the Golden Rule, McShan explains. By any standard, the McShan family has done more than its share for the community. Lee and Velma supported numerous neighborhood activities, with Lee joining and eventually leading almost every civic organization in East.
Bruce and his wife Sheri continue the tradition, supporting everything from schools to arts and civic organizations to community health initiatives. The younger McShan has also worked to convert the company’s delivery vans to run on natural gas, not only saving money but also helping to reduce pollution in the city.
“The community has been very generous and supporting of us,” McShan says, and the company feels an obligation to it.
Will the business continue in the family for another generation? At this point, no one knows. Bruce and Sheri have one daughter, a freshman in high school, and she hasn’t indicated an interest one way or another.
And McShan insists he wants her to lead the company “only if its what she wants to do.”
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