Florist has been in business since 1909, is still family owned and was Stark County’s favorite again in 2018.

The Cowgill family has been there for Stark County residents during emotional times for 110 years.

John Cowgill came to Stark County to open Cowgill Flowers from West Virginia, where he operated a hotel.

His son, James, followed in his father’s footsteps and ran the shop until he died in 1983, when John III took over. James’ brother John II passed away before reaching age one.

John III met his wife, Kathy, at an FTD show in Nashville. The couple married in 1985.

John had been in the flower business since childhood and Kathy had 15 years of experience at a family friend’s flower shop. The couple partnered to open Cathy Cowgill Flowers in 1987, continuing the Cowgill family tradition.

Part of the network of FTD florists, Cathy Cowgill features fresh flowers — loose stems for customers’ selection and designers on staff to create one-of a-kind arrangements — a variety of green plants, planter gardens, blooming plants and a large selection of gifts.

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Some wonder why the shop’s name isn’t Kathy Cowgill Flowers.

“Primarily to ensure better placement in the Yellow Pages, the biggest advertising medium for us in the 80s and 90s,” Kathy said. “C comes before K.”

A good name is key. The right location is vital.

At 4315 Hills and Dales Road NW in Canton, Cathy Cowgill is near affluent neighborhoods and close to the Belden Village Mall.

“In retail, it’s location, location, location,” said Kathy. “We put ourselves where people were going to be.”

Some things are different, yet some things haven’t changed.

“How we do what we do has changed, such as taking online orders,” John said. “What we do hasn’t. We help customers through emotional times.”

Intimate involvement with customers is key.

“We get to know a lot about our customers,” said Kathy. “We ask them about their kids, their grandchildren and their pets.”

Shop dogs, Bruno, Jasmine and Shadow, and shop cat, Charlie, help make connections with customers.

The shop’s staff — an average of 14 people — must maintain flexibility in their daily routines.

“If someone calls off, we shift responsibilities,” said John. “We’re known for our remarkable flower arrangements, but it’s the people here who are truly remarkable.”

Associates go through training on flower varieties, proper care and handling, and the computer system.

“But you can’t teach people to be nice,” said Kathy. “That’s important for everyone who interacts with customers — those in the shop and those who deliver.”

Valentine’s Day is Cathy Cowgill’s busiest day — depending on what day it falls. The busiest week is around Mother’s Day. The busiest month is December.

The shop handled about 50 weddings last year, and also handles many funerals. But that industry has changed, causing the shop to get more into inspirational gifts. Corporate events, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions ceremonies, also are big.

Other local florists have been strong competitors.

“That’s helped us as well as the community,” said John. “We have to work hard to continue to get better.”

Cathy Cowgill also competes with grocery stores, 1-800 Flowers, Pro Flowers and even Amazon. The shop has evolved and is capable of things these competitors aren’t.

“We can create beautiful custom arrangements for a fair price and deliver them the same day,” Kathy said. “We try to give customers a reason to come back.”

The shop has received The Canton Repository’s reader’s choice award for best florist the past four years.

Cathy Cowgill imports flowers from Ecuador, Columbia, Holland and Canada. But the shop also has relationships with several local growers here in Stark County.

The shop continues to innovate. An example is the recent installation of a tropical cooler — one of few in Northeast Ohio — to keep tropical flowers between 50 and 52 degrees.

There are always new varieties of flowers, and Cathy Cowgill is the most knowledgeable resource in the area. 

“We do our homework,” said Kathy. “We know where and when to get the best varieties for the best value. We know exactly what we’re looking for and the best times to buy.”

John is a longtime member of the Jackson Rotary. Kathy is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Stark County. Cowgill supports the Stark County Humane Society, and partners with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce on events.

Does the shop have what it takes to last another 110 years?

With proper care and handling, Cathy Cowgill Flowers certainly will continue to flourish.