Delma Dean only has five grandchildren of her own, but many more people around Baldwin County know her as “Grandma.” The flower shop Delma and her husband Sammy have owned for five years in Loxley, Ala. bears the name, and Dean’s gentle and welcoming demeanor fits the title.
Delma and Sammy’s story originated in a small community in Mississippi called Little Rock. Like most of the people in the area, both were from farming families with little or no access to technology. “We didn’t have phones,” Delma recalls. “If you didn’t have a date by the time you got off the bus on Friday, you knew you were going to be home all weekend.”
After getting married, Sammy and Delma decided to settle in Mobile, Ala. where they raised a daughter and son. Both took jobs working for local grocery stores and on the weekends, Delma would volunteer her time at a local flower shop to learn the florist trade. When the grocery store she was employed at changed owners, a floral department was added and Delma got the opportunity to begin a 40-year career as a florist.
The Deans relocated to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for a short while before settling in Loxley, Ala. 20 years ago. Sammy took a career opportunity at Wal-Mart, while Delma worked in various flower shops and grocery stores. “We love Baldwin County better than any other place we’ve lived,” Sammy says. “Everything is close, there’s always something to do and you can get anywhere from here.”
In 2011, the Deans set up shop in a 100 year-old facility on 1st Avenue in Loxley. “People come in and tell us their memories of this building and what it used to be,” Delma says. “It has character. I think it looks like it’s supposed to be a flower shop.”
Four years ago, Sammy changed his career path and joined Delma in the flower business. “I take care of deliveries and other things so all she has to do is the decorating,” he says. Both Sammy and Delma love the flower business because of the joy they can bring to the people who call or come to their shop. “It makes you feel good when you make your customers happy,” Sammy says.
The Deans work six days a week, but still make time for their favorite activiy – going on road trips to craft fairs and unique spots off the beaten path all over the south. “There’s lots of stuff to see without ever leaving the United States,” Sammy says. They would eventually like to make more time for traveling, even if it means slowing down on the business side. Until then, they’re still making Baldwin County a little prettier, one flower at a time.