Iola Greenhouse opens anew

By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Register Reporter

Register/Anne Kazmierczak
Iola Greenhouse and Gifts staff are, from left, manager Kathy Larson (who also paints home decor sold at the store), Jerry and Jackie Smith, Maranda Spillman and owner Kelly Spears. Spears reopened the landmark Iola business Oct. 1. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Iola Greenhouse has seen more turnover in the past six years than its almost 100 years preceding. New owner Kelly Spears wants to change that, and return it to the stalwart supplier of floral arrangements and green plants it was for so many years.
“Dennis Williams had it for 38 years,” she said. “He offered to teach me all I need to learn.”
Spears reopened as Iola Greenhouse and Gifts on Oct. 1. In addition to flowers and greenery, Spears plans to include gift items similar to those she and her sister, Kim Folk, had at their downtown store Two Sisters some years ago.
“We had that store about seven years and enjoyed it immensely,” Spears said. “It was a gift, jewelry and home decor store. This is that store, plus.”
Spears will include more home decor items at Iola Greenhouse as time passes, focusing initially on wedding and funeral arrangements, balloon bouquets, baby gifts and artificial floral arrangements.
The store has taken on a whole new look. Spears’ parents, Jerry and Jackie Smith, helped redo both the interior and exterior, painting them in warm, natural earth tones that highlight the floral beauty. “It’s very soothing,” Spears said.
Autumn arrangements of faux flowers perk up otherwise drab rainy days, making the interior cozy and welcoming.
“I’m really particular about my artificials,” Spears said. “I want somebody to look at them and say, ‘Is that real?’”
Spears intends the store to be a seasonal go-to for home flowers and decor.
“We will do poinsettias at Christmas and lilies at Easter,” she said. Her father, she said, is now helping renovate the greenhouse.
Poinsettia season is not far around the corner. Already, glimmering red holly berry arrangements sparkle from a corner of the shop. Saint Nicholas statuettes stand waiting to brighten the season. Hand-painted vases, pitchers, flower pots and windows are designed with seasonal motifs; the art work is done by store manager Kathy Larson. Seasonal wreaths and Christmas pepper plants are other offerings.
Spears said taking over the greenhouse was a natural fit for her.
“I’m a big plant lover. I have plants all over my house,” she said. “I always liked houseplants and gardening, so I figured this was up my alley.”
And after 25 years as a registered nurse, she was also looking for a career change.
“In May I’ll finish with a bachelor’s degree in business management.”
Spears intended further schooling after that, but, she said, “This came up and I thought it would be much more fun.”
Spears said she misses the beautiful hanging baskets and pre-made pots she used to find at Maloney’s Greenhouse, which closed after the flood of 2007.
“I’d like to do that,” she said, noting there is no place in Iola to get pre-made baskets right now. Spears and staff will also “hand wrap and deliver gifts as well as flowers,” she said. “If somebody wants to buy a bear and tie balloons to it, we can do that.”
Iola Greenhouse and Gifts has a selection of soft pastel stuffed toys for baby, plus an array of balloon weights for balloon bouquets. Candy-filled coffee mugs are another selection. Not everything is on the shelves yet, Spears noted.
“People need to stop by because there will be new items coming in regularly,” she said.
Spears pointed out a line of aromatherapy products that was previously well-received in Iola, but unavailable since Two Sisters closed.
“It’s a line of all-natural hand soaps, countertop cleaners, dish soap,” she said. The products have rich aromas of blue sage, sea salt and pumello. “They make your house smell wonderful,” she said. She also carries potpourri and candles.
Spears hopes others find the store as welcoming as she does
“For me, my garden has always been therapeutic,” she said. “I think plants make you happy.”
Iola Greenhouse and Gifts is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The phone number is 365-7447.