The Times West Virginian

September 16, 2012

Kime Floral’s new owners working to ‘make Bill proud’

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — In July, Kime Floral and Fairmont lost a valuable member and owner of the business and the community.

William “Bill” Kime had owned the floral store since 1973.

After he passed away, he left the store to two employees, Ellen Ash and Dottie Conard. Ash has been working there for 18 years and Conard has been there for 21 years.

“Mr. Kime started on East Side,” Ash said. “Then in 1974 he moved to this present location.”

The store is located along Fairmont Avenue and Sixth Street. When the store opened in that location, Kime Floral shared the building with Sauro’s Dry Cleaning.

“He had the front of the store,” Ash said about the layout of the shared building. “As the years went along, Mr. Sauro went smaller and smaller and Bill just took over more of the store.”

Over the years, Ash and Conard have been slowly running the store themselves with Kime’s supervision. The two said it’s been a learning experience since Kime passed away and that nothing has changed.

“Every day is the same. Nothing changed — only who’s here changed,” Conard said.

“The past two years prior to his passing, he wasn’t in the store very much,” Ash said. “He would come in once a week, look around and say, ‘You guys are doing a good job’ or ‘You might want to do this’ or give us ideas.”

Every day, though, Kime would call the store between 10 and 10:30 a.m.

“We listened for those phone calls,” Ash said, smiling. “We knew if it was 10 o’clock it was Bill.”

Kime had an enormous impact on his employees. The owners said Kime never got angry with his workers and gave constructive criticism.

“Bill was our boss, and then he was our friend, and then he became our dad,” Ash said, holding back tears. “And that was Bill. He was extremely patient. I think that was one of his greatest virtues, and his love for people.”

They said Kime treated his customers with love and took time to help each one. He had a love for people, especially kids.

One tradition Kime had was giving women a red carnation and kids a daisy when they came into his store. This left a big impact on customers.

“Everybody liked Bill,” Conard said. “We have had more people come in and say they miss him. I have never heard one person that has said one bad thing about him.”

With new management, Kime Floral is still Kime Floral. Ash and Conard didn’t change a thing when they became owners because it’s the way Bill had it. They continue to give out carnations and daisies and give their customers one-on-one service.

Kime Floral employs five workers with two owners who each give something special to the store.

“Sometimes when one person doesn’t know the answer, we’ll say, ‘Hey, Dot, come here’ or ‘Hey, Patty, come here’ because it takes a combined effort,” Ash said.

When Ash and Conard took over they made sure each employee had a job and that the store stayed the way Kime would want it.

The atmosphere of the store is still loving and friendly, but one thing that is missing is Kime’s laugh and sense of humor.

“He liked to make people laugh. He liked to see people happy,” Ash said. “There were very, very few times that you saw him without a smile on his face.”

At the store you can find a picture of Bill Kime on what Ash and Conard call “Bill’s Wall.” The wall has his achievements and interests on it. Other things in the store are still Bill’s as well.

“This is still Bill’s phone and Bill’s table,” Ash said. “And we still keep his knife here. There may be a day where we put it away, but for now we leave it where he left it.”

“We just love our job very much,” Conard said. “We love Bill and we just want to make Bill proud.”

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com of follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.