Over the Rainbow Floral stays in the family
Shelby Cooper looks to maintain and build upon the legacy at local flower shop.
Pam Cooper had a good job at the local hospital when she walked into Over the Rainbow Floral in Wadena to pay her flower bill.
She walked out with plans to buy that flower-filled place, finally fulfilling her dream of owning her own business. Some 27 years later, Pam is now helping in the transition of that business to her daughter-in-law Shelby Cooper, who took over ownership July 1. Pam plans to stay on at least through the end of the year, but Shelby hopes to keep her on as long as she’d like.
Both gals bring their strength to the floral business. Pam knows her customers well. She knows regular customers' favorite flowers or colors. She’s shared in moments of heart break, designing funeral flower arrangements for infants to the elderly. She’s created the perfect display for celebrating proms, weddings, anniversaries. She’s rescued countless men looking for a last minute arrangement with nary any ideas.
“I’ve been here for so long that kids that I gave flowers for their kindergarten graduation, I’m now doing their weddings,” Pam said. “That’s how intertwined you get in the lives of the people here.”
Shelby, like Pam, also left a good job that she loved at Mason Brothers in order to pursue running her own business. At Mason Brothers she was a cake decorator for much of her career and she brings her creative skills to a new medium in assembling impressive flower displays for any occasion. She gives thanks to the skills she learned at Mason Brothers for preparing her to take on this new role. Shelby actually worked at Over the Rainbow for a couple years after Pam bought the place.
“That taught me so much about how to run a business,” Shelby said of her time at Mason Brothers. “I enjoy being creative, I enjoy being with the customers, I love being out in the public.”
Shelby plans to bring her daughter, Heather, into the mix to bring the third generation of Cooper’s into the floral industry. She was born, raised and now lives and works here in Wadena.
“That’s a plus when you have a family flower shop who knows the history of the people in your community,” Pam said. “It’s invaluable that we are passing the flower shop down to somebody that knows the community so well.”
Shelby is learning the ropes of planning for a week of flower needs. She can get flowers everyday but Wednesday. Determining the right amount of perishable products is always a guessing game. Her big plan is to create a website and improve upon their social media presence in the community.
On a recent visit to the shop on a typically slower Monday, a group was looking at options for a funeral arrangement; a son wanted to order flowers for his mother’s 90th birthday; another woman just needed balloons. All those and more are satisfied at Over the Rainbow Floral, which now has an expanded selection of gifts. That’s another area Shelby plans to slowly add to including Minnesota-centric apparel and kitchen wares for those stopping by the historic barn building. The store even includes a coffee bar for those looking for an additional lift to their day.
Pam is thankful for the 27 years that she had been invited into the lives of her customers during times of grief or celebration. Each week has included thousands of flower stems that start out beautiful and go out in an even more impressive arrangement. While they have some arrangements ready to go out the door, others require a couple weeks to order just the right flowers to be imported from around the world and constructed into just the right centerpiece.
“When I think of some of the pieces we've done, it’s absolutely remarkable that we’ve been able to pull some of them off,” Pam said.
Pam hopes to make a slow exit from the flower business but admits that what retirement will look like is not yet clear. More time with the growing number of grandkids is likely. Her husband, Jim, who makes regular appearances at Over the Rainbow also works full-time as a Friendly Rider driver. Their children include Laura, Nancy and their son, Brian, is Shelby’s husband.
Over the Rainbow’s history
Pam didn’t start Over the Rainbow and it wasn’t always in its current space. It was formerly at what is now John’s Car Care on Highway 10, then at what is now Let Love Live on Hwy 71. It’s been at the current location for about 18 years. Pam said prior to her buying the store it was an auto parts store. More than a few men got a surprise upon entering the store.
“That was really interesting the first few months. Seeing all the guys come tearing in here and just stop short, ‘Wow this isn’t auto parts is it?!’” “Nope,” she’d say, “but you can buy your wife some flowers.”
“This has been a good spot for us,” Pam said.
Originally, the building at 123 First Street SW, in Wadena, was built as a livery stable some 120 years ago. Pam thinks it’s all that horse manure that’s helped keep the flowers so bright and strong at their store. Feel free to stop by and smell the roses anytime.
Contact them at 218-631-1514.