Miller to close Flowers by Shirley after four decades in West Point

Shirley Miller, owner of Flowers By Shirley, has made the decision to retire after 52 years in Floral Design.
By: 
DONNA SUMMERALL
Staff Writer

Not many people are lucky enough to love what they do and make a living doing it. Shirley Miller has been one of those few who never felt like what she did was work. Owning Flowers By Shirley has been a labor of love.

Miller opened Flowers By Shirley June 1, 1977. Miller started her flower shop with $5,000, and the determination to own her own business. The business has grown during its 42 years and Miller currently employs Jayn Duncan, Barbara Harmon, Janey Stapleton, and part-time employees Cindy Terry, Rachel Pate and Lea Merkle.

"It has been a very hard decision to make," Miller said. "But I'm ready to retire. We will be closing the shop. I love all my customers. I've watched so many of them grow up."

Flowers By Shirley has been a part of West Point for 42 years. Customers have consulted with Miller and Duncan during weddings for the happiest day of their lives, they arranged and delivered beautiful flowers for the birth of their children and other special days and helped with casket pieces, flowers and plants for funerals during the most difficult of times.

"The community has shown us so much trust," Miller said. "It has been a blessing to serve our customers in West Point and Clay County. I appreciate everyone who came to us when they needed flowers or plants."

Miller could not say enough nice things about her staff. They have worked long into the night and on weekends to prepare for Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, weddings or funerals.

"Jayn has won Mississippi Floral Designer of the Year in the past," Miller said. "She is so talented and understands floral design so well. My sister, Barbara Ann Harmon, has been such a help, as have Janey Stapleton, and part-time employees Cindy Terry, Rachel Pate and Lea Merkle. They have worked so hard and I love them all. We've been a family."

"I've been working with flowers since the early 1960s," Miller said. "I was vice president for the Mississippi Floral Association, served on the board of directors for five years and did other things within the MFA. I've spent most of my life with flowers."
Miller studied Floral Arrangement and Design at Mississippi State University.

"My mentors were Ralph Null, Jim Dale Prince, Susan Tomlinson, Wayne Jones and Bob Hampton," Miller said. "They would often give seminars and workshops that were sponsored by Flowers By Shirley. Kitty Dill never missed a class. It was open to anyone with an interest in Floral Design."

When asked about Scott Reed of Petal Pushers, Miller said she never thought of him as a competitor.

"Scott and I are good friends." Miller said. "We work well together. If I run our of ribbon or floral wire, I knew I can call him and he was always happy to help. And I was more than happy to do anything I could for him."

Miller said she doesn't have a favorite flower or a favorite color of roses. She has loved them all.

"Before I opened Flowers By Shirley, I worked for Melinda Montgomery at Montgomery Flowers," Miller said. "I just adored Miss Melinda and I learned so much from her. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known."

She really hates to retire, but Miller is ready to celebrate a new time in her life, but it is hard to say goodbye to Flowers By Shirley.

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