KINSTON, NC (WNCT) – A Kinston woman has been making people smile with her florist business for more than 70 years. She doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Jewell Rider started her business in 1951, taking over from her mother-in-law’s sister, who was no longer able to run the flower shop on her own. She said she worked in an office and couldn’t afford childcare at the time, so this seemed like the perfect fit.
At first, she worked in a bedroom in her mother-in-law’s house.
“When I got past that, my stepdad was the head of the Coca-Cola factory, so they were building something there and had a tool house,” Rider said. “So when they came through the building, I got the tool house, and so I moved it to the backyard.”
She then built out the back of her own home before finally landing at the company’s permanent location at 704 Westover Avenue in 1976.
If you ask Rider what her favorite flower is, she’ll say, “I love them all, I can’t say I like one better than the other.”
It is this joy and this energy that leaves more than one.
“I’m 96,” she’ll tell you with a big smile on her face. “When you’re working with flowers, I mean, like I said, it’s about as close to God as you can get if you behave yourself,” she laughed.
And it’s a family occasion, with Rider’s daughter and grandson working alongside her every day.
“I’ve been doing this probably since I was born,” says Evelyn Rider-Mozingo. “My mom has been the backbone of this business and I’m trying to keep it going, we all are.
Plus, when you’ve been in business for 70+ years, you really get to know your customers.
“I have a lot of people calling me and they’re saying ‘I want to send something to Mr and Mrs so and so’ and ‘Do you know what they like’ and if they’re my customers I can pretty much tell them what they like and what they don’t like.
After 70 years, she is still there at Rider Florist almost every day, doing what she loves the most.
“You see very happy people come in and you see them very sad, so you talk to them, cry with them,” Rider said.
Even on the days when it seems difficult and you just don’t want to get out of bed.
“I always jump and go,” she said. “You know, a lot of times you don’t feel like it and you think ‘Well, I wish I could stay here, but you know, you get up and go.