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Tipton Hurst 

Three generations of floral expertise

click to enlarge Howard Hurst
  • Howard Hurst

For nearly 125 years, Tipton Hurst has wowed its customers. It started in 1886 with David Tipton overseeing the greenhouse that produced locally grown roses, carnations and orchids for fresh arrangements and corsages done on the florist side of the business under the guidance of Joe Hurst. They also shipped orchid blooms around the country.

Over the years, Tipton Hurst has become known as the city's premiere florist, as well as the state's largest floral operation. Eventually, Joe Hurst's son, Joe Hurst Jr., bought out the Tipton family in 1950.

About 25 years ago, Hurst Jr. turned over the business to his son Howard. "My dad did a good job and I'm trying to follow his example. The markets have continually changed and the business has had to change and adapt. If we hadn't, the business would have died on the vine," says Hurst.

Long before taking over the Heights' florist, Hurst paid his dues. In a way, one could say he literally grew up in the business.

As a preschooler he took an interest and spent his time sweeping and watering plants, then as he became older, he "cut in flowers" which means removing unwanted leaves and the bottom part of the stem for designers. He worked his way through delivery, too.

"I liked doing it," Hurst now says about his after-school and weekend job. He also knew from an early age that he wanted to run the business one day but not until he graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1980 with a degree in business administration.

"I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did," Hurst says about the early days of his leadership, first as general manager at 22, followed by assuming the company's top title four years later.

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