Gracie FairfaxWinnie Maher (left) started Maher’s Florist in 1977. Her daughter Kim Wharton now primarily runs the business while Maher does the paperwork from home and comes in occasionally as extra help.
Gracie FairfaxKim Maher (left) and Winnie Maher celebrate 40 years of business this year.
Business Has Blossomed For 40 Years At Maher’s Florist
At Maher’s Florist in Pasadena, it’s all in the family. Winnie Maher opened the business on Fort Smallwood Road in 1977. Previously a bookkeeper at her sister’s florist, Maher decided to go into the business herself about a year following the closing of her sister’s store. This year, Maher’s Florist celebrates 40 years of business.
Maher has lived in Pasadena since the ‘50s. She met her husband, Charles Maher, in Pine Grove Village, where they both grew up.
“We knew everybody and anybody from Pasadena,” Maher said. “When we went to high school, Northeast and Chesapeake weren’t here, so we both went to Glen Burnie High School. The community has grown over the years; it has changed. Each time [Maher’s Florist has moved], we’ve expanded, but we never leave the area because Pasadena is our hometown.”
In the early days of the business, life was busy. With only one designer, Charles did all of the deliveries after finishing a full-time day job. Maher even put a cot on the floor of the shop when her daughter, Kristen Fontz, was sick in elementary school.
When another daughter, Kim Wharton, was in college, she came in to help on Mother’s Day. Maher’s sister suggested that Wharton put together an arrangement, and the art of floral arranging came naturally.
Wharton now runs the business and Maher continues to do the paperwork for the business from home — in addition to helping out in the store around holidays. Fontz works for the government and dedicates her holidays to helping at the store.
Other family members are also brought in over the holidays to help. “Like it or not – they’re obligated,” Wharton said.
For Maher, coming into the shop means seeing the customers who have returned for decades. “We must have done something right to keep them,” Maher said.
Over the years, the business has evolved. “It’s ever-changing,” Wharton said. “It’s kind of like fashion. It changes season to season, year to year. So it never really gets boring.”
Weddings are now a large part of the store’s business — a market Kim and floral designer Joanne Baker have worked to grow. They have also worked to grow their online business.
When working with clients, Wharton especially enjoys using Pinterest so brides can share their vision. She begins the first consultation asking customers what flowers they like and what flowers they dislike. From there, Wharton is able to help clients build arrangements that fit their taste. She will also bring out flowers from the back when she meets with brides, giving them a tangible display of their options.
Maher’s sources its flowers primarily from local wholesalers in Baltimore and New Jersey. However, they’ve also sourced flowers from as far as Hawaii, Ecuador and Holland. If someone comes into the shop in the morning and asks for flowers Wharton doesn’t have in stock, the proximity of wholesalers in Baltimore allows her to still fill those orders.
“Or else she calls her father at 5:00am and says, ‘Hey, Dad, can you run to Washington and pick me up some flowers?’” Maher added.
“He’s retired. He can take a nap when he gets home,” Wharton joked.
One of the most difficult aspects of running a florist is the fresh nature of the product. However, Maher’s does its best to put the customer first and ensure the end result is as fresh as possible.
The business continues to remain faithful to Maher’s philosophy of “treating others the way you would like to be treated.”
“We look at it as if it’s not something we would give to our own daughters or our own mothers, then it shouldn’t go out the door,” Wharton said.
In the future, Wharton hopes to expand to Severna Park and Annapolis to grow the number of clients who can benefit from the personalized service Maher’s has to offer.