After essentially being closed for more than a year, Tanya Cherry has Prairie Floral Design Studio open again on 10th Street in Gering.
Cherry said she closed the store in January 2020 due to “employment issues and community issues and just trying to stay afloat.” She returned to the store Sunday to put out stock and get ready to open back up Monday.
“I’ve been helping people, but helping people by call only,” she said. “Not open to walk-in, nothing in the coolers.”
The time was right to open up the store again for Cherry, who is in her sixth year owning the business.
“We’re going to do the best we can to be here, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “COVID didn’t help.”
Maintaining a small business in Gering is important to the local economy, Cherry said.
“Clearly, we can see the impact that all of our small towns are taking right now,” she said. “Not just from COVID. Even before that, people were struggling to be here, so there’s a lot of new challenges.”
When she was growing up, Cherry remembers a vibrant downtown, and would like to see that again.
“I grew up in a time when there were a lot of businesses down here, and it was wonderful,” she said. “Businesses looked out for each other. Everybody knew each other. It made a big difference. It makes a big difference when we can come together as a community and work together.”
As the business reopens, Cherry said she’s taking a bit of a different approach from when she first opened.
“I came back here thinking if I build this business, and I employ a lot of people, and I do all these big things, then I’ll be able to help the community,” she said. “That was wrong. What I needed to do is come in and help the community, and then that will build my business, but I did it backwards. So, I’m coming in with a different attitude this time.”
Ultimately, Cherry wants to take a more active role in the community, but as the only employee and also working a second job, that means her shop may not be open all the time.
“I want to get to know people, and be part of something bigger,” she said. “That’s why I came back here in the first place. That’s a hard lesson to learn. It took me five years, but I think I’ve figured it out.”
Cherry said she loves flowers and helping people.
“I was a therapist before I bought the flower shop,” she said. “It’s still a good way to help people.”
As a florist, Cherry said it all comes back to helping people and being there for them.
“Knowing that you’ve been there for people in the most important times of their life,” she said. “You’ve made an impact. When you walk away, it’s not really about the flowers. It’s about the story. It’s about the person. When you can walk away and know that you are a part of that family’s story, that’s what it’s about. Weddings, funerals, babies, anniversaries, whatever it is, it’s being part of somebody else’s story. I think if more people felt that way, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in. We need to make the effort to be in other people’s stories.”