The Green Boutique has grown and changed with Valrico in three decades.
And that’s the secret to the success of this family operation, says Roz Cimino-Creager, who runs the Green Boutique with husband, Mark, and son, Matt.
The home decor and gift shop may be a fixture to residents in the Valrico-Bloomingdale neighborhoods.
But the owners have stayed flexible while focused on their vision of a retail community in their hometown.
“We have listened to our customers over the years, and we have not been afraid to change," said Roz, taking a brief break in her workday at the shop in Bella Plaza, off Bloomingdale Avenue.
"The vision for any small business may be good at the time, but it may need to be tweaked over time – or you may need to go in another direction to be successful,” she noted.
That certainly was the case for the Green Boutique, which began as a plant nursery in 1979, when the shopping plaza did not exist.
The nursery was surrounded by open land and cow pastures. Roz and Mark's son, Matt, was just a year old when they started out.
Fast-forward 34 years. The Creagers changed their business model from an outdoor nursery in the withering Florida sun to a gift shop carrying top brands like Vera Bradley. It was the right decision for their customers, a growing base of professionals.
Today, Matt is a partner in the family business, helping his mother run the store, while Mark oversees the shopping plaza that the Creagers developed, as well as handling the bookkeeping.
“As a family business, we always keep in mind that we work as a team,” Roz explained. “We are not in opposition of each other. We support each other.”
Running a small business is a huge challenge as any Main Street merchant knows. Running a family business poses its own special challenges, as emotional relationships are involved. Petty disagreements at home may spill over into the business day, or vice versa.
Asked how the family manages conflict, Roz explained that "comunication is essential. Sometimes we may just agree to disagree.
“We all see each other every day. Owning a business runs through our lives as a family,” she said.
That takes a level of commitment that some might not be able to muster. But it was that team approach and a shared vision that enabled the Creagers to make several leaps in their business.
It not only ensured the success of the Green Boutqiue, but it also enabled the family to grow it.
In 2006, the family developed the land where they had run their nursery into a shopping plaza, Plaza Bella. In Florida, it is common for major development companies to run shopping centers. But the Creagers took on the challenge and succeeded, which is no small feat.
“We knew we wanted an actual store, as we were operating in a small old house," Roz explained. "Out of necessity, we developed the property ourselves.”
All that good fortune came from hard work and planning. The Creagers are not absentee owners. Just the opposite.
Roz estimates that she works an average of 53 hours a week. “I meet a lot of wonderful people. We have a really great staff; they’re like family.
"Through our business, we've come to know our community. We're a part of the community."
Want to Learn More About the Green Boutique?
Check out the Patch business listing on the Green Boutique.