This April, Marge's Flowers will be celebrating something that most small business owners' only dream of: Their 62nd anniversary.
Originally owned by Marge Kalmes and then passed on to son and daughter in-law Ron and Gloria Kalmes, Marge’s Flowers sits at 8038 Lincoln Ave., which is considered by many as the cornerstone street in downtown Skokie.
Yet before the couple began working in the flower trade the two both had unique backgrounds. Ron served in the United States Army. Gloria, on the other hand, worked at the Federal Aviation Administration for 15 years.
“I had a very good job,” Gloria said. “Ron and I were getting married and he needed some assistance at his mom’s flower business."
That flower business started when Ron’s mom was pregnant with him in 1950. Unfortunately, his mother passed away after managing the store for several decades.
“She got to see the 60th anniversary,” Gloria said. “The store was decorated with [more flowers than usual]. At least she got to see that."
Since then, Gloria and her husband have taken over and it’s been 38 years since they’ve been at the helm. While Ron grew up working at his mother's store, Gloria almost had no experience. So, she took a flower designing class and studied under her mother-in-law to learn the trade, she said.
While she learned a good amount about the trade from her new family, Gloria was able to bring some of her skills from the FAA over to Marge’s Flowers, she said.
“I love all people,” she said. “I had won an award with the FAA – it was the first HR award. I like to work with people; right here with my employees and with the customers. I know most of the customer's addresses and names by heart.”
As with any flower business, weddings are a big part of business.
“We’ve had a lot of repeat weddings where we do their weddings and then we end up doing their children’s weddings,” Gloria said. “That’s always nice to see.”