It may sound simple, but for Michael Bothe and William Fitzgerald - owners of the Mahopac Flower Shop - success and longevity have come through a basic formula: hard work and doing the right thing for the customer and community.
The pair took over their shop in the middle of Mahopac 28 years ago - and were one of seven flowers shops at the time. Now those competitors have virtually disappeared, leaving Bothe and Fitzgerald as the last men standing.
The pair was honored by the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce Tuesday evening at the Business Person of the Year Awards, earning the 2016 Business People Meritorious - for professional accomplishments and community contributions.
The partners - who contribute regularly to local charities and causes - and whose credo has long been 'the customer is always right' - never expected the honor.
"I was shocked," Fitzgerald told Daily Voice during a recent visit to the shop. "It was a big surprise. Everyone works hard and is nice when you go into their stores."
"It was a pleasant surprise," Bothe added. "It's very nice to be recognized... we never look for it. Everything we do is from the heart. But it's nice to be recognized."
Fitzgerald grew up in Hartsdale and went to school in Yonkers. Bothe hails from Michigan.
Bothe and Fitzgerald were told 28 years ago by fortuneteller in NYC: "there's a wonderful opportunity north of the city."
"So we came up and looked, and found the place," Fitzgerald said.
"And the store has become like home," Bothe added. "When we came here we didn't know a soul."
Strong values and a sense of community have been the pair's keys to success.
"We always believe the customer is right," Fitzgerald said. "We always replace flowers if they don't like them. We do what the customer wants, and we keep prices reasonable, we give a lot for the money - and we always put in extra."
Some of the shop's charitable contributions include: donating a portion Valentine's Day rose sales to ALS; doing the purple ribbons for Mahopac Relay For Life's Paint the Town Purple Day; helping with the Pajama Program - collecting PJs and books for needy kids; donating flowers to the Chamber Scholarship Fund; donating to the Westchester Women's Center; helping the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating to Freezin' for a Reason.
And 28 years later? "We're still having fun," Fitzgerald said. "We meet a lot of people and still get new customers."
"We enjoy people," Bothe echoed when asked about the shop's longevity. "This is a nice atmosphere to work in. We're still here because people like us, and we never say no," he laughed. "We take a lot of pride in the service we provide and being part of the community."
Mahopac Flower Shop is located at 603 Route 6 in Mahopac.
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