NILES, Ohio – Creative Design & Floral Inc., in operation since 1924, faces many of the challenges it did when it first opened – and new ones as well.
Bill Billion, floral manager at the business, 1112 Niles-Cortland Road, says he has been working with floral arrangements since he was 15.
Billion joined the retail floral business in 1988 and discovered he loved to design. Not only that – he was good at it.
“We are full-service florists and we offer everything: funeral homes, weddings and everyday designs,” he says.
“We are situated across from the Niles cemetery so we tend to do a lot of memorial work.”
The business has changed its name and owners through the years. And it has incorporated, Billion says, with its employees assuming ownership.
“It was all employees that were here,” he says of the new ownership group.
“It wasn’t like people came from outside. It was all from within. This place has always been that way. When older folks retired, it seemed that younger people tended to buy in to the company and it ran like that for years,” he says.
Three years ago, after a struggle to find help with the landscaping portion of the business, Creative Design & Floral shifted to floral only.
“Back to the beginning of the business,” Billion says. “That was how it was started. It was actually a greenhouse and a floral business in its inception in 1924.”
Billion says the business, now staffed with five employees, has suffered from the same economic challenges every business in the Mahoning Valley has endured.
“We are what I call a ‘luxury’ business,” he says. “In times like now with high inflation and things, you have to think, ‘Are people going to buy gas and groceries or are they going to buy flowers?’ ”
Creative Design & Floral often works with Niles Community Services – a community food pantry – during its fundraisers and provides baskets and arrangements, Billion says.
His Niles customers have been loyal and great to work with, Billion says. He often sees regulars and is on a first-name basis with several. “They know what they want,” Billion says. “We like that. It makes it easier to take care of them. Most folks in this town are very nice and very nice to work with.