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D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    March 2008

Still in Bloom

Lusk Flowers is 80 years old and still fresh as a daisy, with a new partner. Plus Buffalo Bar kerfuffle, farewell Western Stationers, the Daily Press skinny and more.

 

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this month, Lusk Flowers & Gift Shop is one of Silver City's oldest continuously running businesses. And owner Lana Swaggerty says the company's slogan — "Simply the best. . . since 1928" — is the reason for its long success and what keeps it strong today, even in the face of an increasingly competitive local flower market.

Lana Swaggerty, owner of Lusk Flowers & Gift Shop, and Doyle Shirey, owner of Forever Flowers, which has merged with Lusk, stand in the shop's gift area with some wedding and silk flower products. (Photo by Donna Clayton Lawder)

"People know what they are getting with us; they have been loyal customers for years and expect top-quality products," she says.

And now her shop has expanded its offerings, as the company recently merged with Florever Flowers, a silk flower business owned by Doyle Shirey. That business, formerly on Hwy. 180, has moved its inventory of silk flowers and plants, gift items and an extensive line of wedding and party items, filling out the Lusk location to nearly bursting.

Swaggerty bought Lusk in August 2006 and moved it from its College Avenue home to its current spot on Pope Street. "I didn't have a choice, as the building had been sold separately," she says, "but it turns out that with the walk-by traffic here, this is a good location." Tucked in near the old Silver Heights Nursery, the shop gets a lot of daily traffic, she says, thanks to the proximity of a dry-cleaning business, a new beauty salon and other nearby businesses.

In the florist business, Swaggerty says, local clientele is what keeps a shop afloat — whether buying for the home or office or shipping through FTD wire service. Lusk is blessed with a strong, loyal local customer base, she says — customers she works hard to continue satisfying.

"This business has customers that go back years," Swaggerty says. "Even a lot of the locals who have moved away, their folks still live here and they order through us."

Repeat business and regular orders are strong, she adds. "It's tremendous. Doctor's offices, restaurants and private customers, too. Week after week, month after month, we have a lot of regular orders, and that's a huge compliment to us."



When it comes to cut flowers, freshness is a prime concern. Swaggerty points out the fresh stock at Lusk today: One flower case holds buckets and buckets of fresh cuts by the stem — brilliant Asiatic lilies, elegant white Casablanca lilies, snapdragons in a rainbow of hues from lilac to burgundy, plump crimson Gerbera daisies and, of course, roses. Another refrigerator holds more blooms, as well as buckets of feathery green filler stems. And there are vases with small to large arrangements, things to give customers ideas or to be bought straight from the case.

"I love the Ecuadorian roses," she says. "They are the longest lasting and they open as roses are supposed to do — none of that dying off as a tight bud!"

Lusk's fresh-cut flower arrangements start at $20, Swaggerty says, and include at least three different kinds of blooms.

Helping customers find what they need and want is part of being a full-service shop, not just a grab-and-go refrigerator, she adds. "It's the nature of the business. People come in, they may not really know what they want, and you have to ask questions to help them match up their needs with what they want to or can spend," she explains. "For someone buying flowers for someone else, I'll ask things like, 'Does she have a favorite flower?' or 'What's his favorite color?' Then I'll start making suggestions and put something together. I've learned to appreciate every color of the spectrum — even orange!"

Shirey chimes in on Swaggerty's touch with color. "She puts things together you'd never think would go together, and gets beautiful results," he says.

The creative aspect of flower arranging, getting to know her customers and the variety of her work keep her busy and enthused, Swaggerty says. "It's never the same from day to day, and I love that."

There is also an aspect of ministry to her work, she says, "especially when there's a death. You have to be there and be really sensitive to the person's needs."



Along with fresh flowers, Lusk does gift baskets in any theme and sells a wide range of gifts, from cuddly teddy bears to a violin that plays in tune, no matter what strings you hit, from satiny fruits to elegant porcelain-faced dolls.

"We have items in a wide range of prices, for any age and both genders," Swaggerty says. "Doyle has brought in a man's touch, so there are wonderful masculine gifts, too."

Lusk is the exclusive local dealer for the Namb fine gift line of its crystal, porcelain and silver items. The shop keeps a variety of Namb gifts on display, and Lusk can fill special orders in three business days, she says.

The shop offers a large array of party items, and Swaggerty and Shirey offer advice on decorating for parties large and small. "We have a huge amount of party line supplies. We don't even have the room to display them here!" she says with a laugh. "But we can suggest what someone needs for their room, and we loan things and sell them, too."

Swaggerty says her business also is here to provide service to the community and she enjoys giving support to local businesses, groups and churches.

"We will decorate the space for them," she says. "We'll loan them items they need for their event. We want to do anything we can to help make their event beautiful and a success."

"Often they don't know just what they want or need," Shirey puts in.

"But helping them figure it out and showing them what's possible, that's just so much fun!" Swaggerty says.



Lusk Flowers, 1303 N. Pope St., Silver City, 538-5397.

 



Buffalo Bar Update

Last month, Business Exposure raised something of a kerfuffle when we broke the news that the Buffalo Bar in Silver City was being sold. While statements from self-described purchaser Mike Brinton and the bar's long-time owner Sam Trujillo differ, both sides have made statements that show a deal is, in fact, in the works if not yet closed. Brinton says he regrets making the error of "speaking too soon," as he'd signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding the deal. But in the excitement of talking with Business Exposure about his renovations on the property — about which he and his architect had already had a meeting with the Silver City Planning and Zoning Office — he confirmed unequivocally that he had "bought the Buffalo." For his part, Trujillo says the news of the potential sale leaking out has caused many a headache for him, with bartenders and customers crying, the Mimbres Region Arts Council concerned over the Beer Garden licensing the Buffalo provides for the MRAC's Blues Festival, and liquor suppliers calling the bar to get specific dates of change in ownership. "It's been a nightmare for me!" Trujillo exclaims. He does admit having gone through three or four purchase agreements and a non-disclosure agreement, but adds, "To me, it's not a sale until when I have the money in my hand. All I can tell you is that I haven't sold, and the things, the situations that are here now, it could be three months from now, maybe four months before I really sell it." Pressed on his semantics, Trujillo concedes he is "definitely thinking about selling, maybe planning it now," and adds, "I'm getting too old, and that's the major thing, you know?"



Ch-ch-changes

Don and Lawana Beems are finally getting to retire. The longtime owners of Western Stationers, 703 N. Bullard St., one of Silver City's longest continuously running businesses, have sold off parts of their business and plan to leave the premises to new tenants by the end of May and start indulging their many hobbies, according to Lawana. "Don has been at this for 40 years, and I've been doing it for 34, so it's about time!" she says.

Two craft-related businesses will be moving into the space this summer. Thunder Creek Quilts, owned by the mother-and-daughter team of Nancy Coryell and Cindy Ugarte, will leave its Hudson Street location with hopes to move into the Western Stationers building around June 1. Coryell and Ugarte will expand their quilt shop's material offerings and classes, drop the mattress and furniture business that was part of their mix in the old location, and will continue Western Stationers' Hallmark and office-supply businesses, which they purchased from the Beems.

Jane Alley, owner of A Bead or Two, will add her business to the mix, leaving her Adobe Plaza location at 1607 Hwy. 180 to move down the hill onto Bullard Street, she hopes by July. "We're going to continue to sell all the beads and supplies and findings that we carried in the old shop, and we'll have room to carry even more," Alley says. "This gives me over 100 more square feet, and we will have a shared teaching room so more classes will be available."

Judy Billings, owner of Aunt Judy's Attic, 1950 E. Hwy. 180, will be buying out Western Stationers' rubber stamp and scrapbooking supplies when the Beems close down at the end of May, and adding it to her crafty inventory. She invites Lawana Beems' students to join her numerous ongoing and expanding craft classes.

In another switcheroo, Bill Blakemore and Pat Bouchard will move out of the Copper Quail gallery by the end of this month and open a new gallery, Moonstruck, maybe as early as April Fool's Day, at 110 Yankie St., the spot recently occupied by Ann Simonson's gallery. Simonson is moving up the block to the spot vacated last month by Eklektikas gallery, who moved up the block into Seedboat Gallery. Artist Karen Muench is staying put at the Copper Quail.



New Owners

Chuck Watkins has bought the Mr. Ed's Do It Center at 1401 Hwy. 180 in Silver City, and it is now a Sun Valley Hardware store. The signage will soon reflect the store's new identity, Sun Valley Do It Best. Watkins, who lives in Hatch, is managing the Silver City store, as well as the one in Hatch; with his business partner, he owns four Do It centers, the others located in Las Cruces and Deming.

It's more than a "pipe dream." Under his corporation, LD SD, LLC, Steve Dominguez and his brother Lupe Dominguez have purchased the Smokeshop, the busy little tobacco kiosk business at 1408 N. Hudson St. in Silver City. "We own the auto spa, so this was a good opportunity to expand our ownership in the area there, because it's right next door," Steve Dominguez says. He confirms the brothers plan to keep operating the quaint kiosk business in its unique drive-up location right behind their car wash bays "at least for the present time." 388-5575.

Sible and Edie Tharp are the proud new owners of Sunshine Inn, the tanning salon at 225 E. Idaho Ave. in Las Cruces that also sells sandals, swimsuits and chic Marc Chantal leather goods. The mother-and-daughter duo are long-time Las Crucens. Edie says, "We're very excited, and we're adding some Texas Leather Company purses and Woodwick candles to our inventory." Woodwick candles are those nice ones with the wooden wicks that crackle like a fireplace as they burn. 525-2300.



New in Town

Kathryn Elms has registered her new business, Azumi Japanese Embroidery, and construction of a traditional-style Japanese embroidery studio is well underway at her Silver City property. "It will be a serene, quiet setting where classes will be offered for people to learn traditional Japanese embroidery. Products we will be using are all top quality from Japan. We are scheduled to open by July and by then, the Japanese garden also will be done," Elms says. She completed her five years of study with teachers in the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta, a recognized school from the Japanese Kurenai-Kai tradition, and passed her exam last October, making her a certified teacher of this exquisite ancient art. 3912 N. Blackhawk Road, 534-4663.

Margaret Hopper has registered her business Margaret's Flowers in Silver City and plans to supply wholesale fresh cut flowers to local florists. Also, look for more of her famous dahlias and gladiolas at the Silver City Farmer's Market this summer.

In Las Cruces, Home Repair Contractors, a business that will perform remodeling, service repairs and maintenance for homes and businesses, hopes to open by March 1 at 1412 Portland Dr. The company is owned by David Herrell and Gary and Connie Lane. The Lanes have built homes and developed land for more than two decades, with Gary also a partner in Lane Plumbing Co. in Alamogordo. Herrell owned and operated a real estate and appraisal business and recently operated Time Out Travel Center in Alamogordo. 647-9898.



In the Money

Three new Citizens Bank branches are set to spring up around Las Cruces. Construction at the 3030 W. Picacho Ave. location should be complete by the end of April and bank president Justin Harper expects to be open for business by mid-May. The new 9,000-foot full-service location, which cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, will include 4,000 square feet of space available for lease. Another 6,000-square-foot branch is planned to go in near the corner of University Avenue and Telshor Boulevar, where new construction is underway. That branch is planned for 2009. And a third location is planned for the East Mesa area, north of Hwy. 70, near Sonoma Boulevard.



Bigger and Better

Kathy Grubbs, RN, BSN, checks in to say that San Vicente Home Health Care has expanded its coverage area to include Deming, Columbus and Lordsburg. "We're still going strong in Silver City, where San Vicente is already so well known," Grubbs says. As noted previously in Business Exposure, San Vicente Home Health became part of Las Cruces-based Coordinated Home Health last year. CHH was not a direct provider of Medicare services, Grubbs notes. "But with the partnership with San Vicente, we are able to provide Medicare home services now as well to patients in these areas." 538-0912, (888) 538-0912.

Styles In Motion, the Las Cruces dance and gymnastic clothing and accessories business opened by Rhonda Masters, a businesswoman and former registered nurse, has expanded. Masters' husband, David, began remodeling the store at 1770 S. Telshor Blvd., Suite B, last summer when a chiropractor vacated neighboring office space. Masters says her store, having doubled its size, boasts increased storage and an additional fitting room and now carries an expanded line of ballroom dancing apparel, in response to that activity's growing popularity. 521-3855.

There are great new improvements at Mountain View Market in Las Cruces, including a fresh coat of paint, remodeling and expanded product offerings. The store has added a new freezer and produce case, and a baker is making artisan breads daily on site. "We're just trying to make everything fresh and better," a spokesman confirms. 1300 El Paseo Road, 523-0436.



Real Estate News

Smith Real Estate and Property Management, 505 W. College Ave. in Silver City and with an office in the Mimbres, is growing. In the Silver City office, Smith has added two new associate agents, Mark Kycia and Missy Bunker, in recent months. There's also a noteworthy new sign out front and the whole building is undergoing an extensive facelift to reflect its vitality. In the Mimbres office, Darla Osborn has been added as a new associate broker. Silver City, 538-5373; Mimbres, 536-3870.

Business is good for Garland Real Estate, with an office at 2970 N. Main St. in Las Cruces, another in Alamogordo, and perhaps one opening in Silver City before long. Jaylen Garland recently registered her business in Silver City to do business here, and confirms she's got her eye on the town. "Silver City has always been a place we've wanted to get into. One of my associate brokers, Albert Madrigal, splits his time between here and there (Las Cruces and Silver City). We opened an office in Alamogordo last year and we do a lot of work in Deming, too, so we're kind of Southwest specialists." Garland says she is excited about the Silver City real estate market, and increased activity in the town is what's behind her desire to open a new office in the town in the foreseeable future. 524-7266.



Smaller and better?

It's not your imagination! The width of the Silver City Daily Press has shrunk. In early February, the paper switched to newsprint that produces a paper one full inch narrower, making it the size of the Sun-News. A contact at the Daily Press says the decision was made for a variety of reasons, including price and availability of newsprint plus the move to a new printer, Signature Offset in Las Cruces (which also prints Desert Exposure). Calls to Tina Ely, publisher of the Daily Press, to inquire whether the printing change means the paper will be selling or has sold its own press equipment and what this might mean for jobs at the paper, were not returned. Founded in 1935, with a heritage that goes back to 1873, the Daily Press is one of only a handful of remaining independently owned dailies in the state, and Ely is the third generation in her family to serve as publisher.

 

 

Going, going, gone...

Sav-On Drugs, 1306 N. Hudson in Silver City, has gone out of business.

Ditto for High Desert Furniture and Way Out West Decor, 2900 S. Highway 28 in Las Cruces.

 



Send business news to donna@desertexposure.com





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