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For Coombs Flowers, business is a thing of beauty

By Dana Hantel

In 1952, William and Agnes Coombs opened a greenhouse and flower shop on Canyon Road. William had just graduated from West Virginia University, and he applied all  he’d learned about plants to their new business venture. Coombs Flowers relocated to Fayette Street in 1954, when a pond used to water the plants was affected by mining, and in 1960, the business moved to the 401 High St. location  it has called home ever since.

Jim Coombs, the son of William and Agnes, runs the business today. He’s considered moving at various times over the years, but he’s always decided to stay put because of the foot traffic, vehicle traffic and proximity to the university, as well as valuable relationships with partners like the property owner, Perilli Apartments, which he said does an outstanding job of making sure all their facility’s needs are taken care of.

Jim grew up around the flower shop, started working there officially in the mid-1980s and has built a satisfying career in the family business. He enjoys the fact  “each day is totally different” and  his job presents “opportunities to be creative.” And he said  the business is really about emotions. “When somebody gives you flowers, it’s the emotion you feel — and the emotion that the person giving the gift feels — that’s so special. Flowers brighten up a room and cheer people up.”

While the fleeting beauty of flowers is part of their appeal, people can hold onto the emotions associated with floral gifts for longer by choosing containers that can be reused. Coombs has been seeing increased sales of houseplants, especially succulents, in different kinds of containers. He said succulents are a good choice for people who don’t have a lot of experience caring for plants, as are pothos, peace lilies and snake plants.

Renee Riggs with flower arrangements
Renee Riggs, an employee at Coombs Flowers, shows off some of the business’ floral arrangements.

When asked what some of the challenges in his industry are, Jim said  “there are a lot of order gatherers,” which results in customers paying more than they need to and not getting the proper resolution of any issues that might arise. Despite the higher prices charged by these intermediaries, local businesses receive less money for these orders.

The best option is to call your local florist directly. Even if you’re sending flowers to someone in another town, it’s best to place a direct call to a florist there. This ensures that you receive personal attention and the best pricing. And as Jim said, “If you shop local, you’re supporting not just the business, but the whole town, the whole community.”

A focus on community and relationships is what keeps regular customer, Jason Smith coming back to Coombs time and time again.

Smith co-owns Smith Funeral & Cremation Care with his wife, Cathy Baker-Smith. Though there have been various owners over the years, Smith Funeral is  the longest continually serving funeral home in Morgantown, dating back to 1902.

The Smitha have served the community  since 2015, and they use Coombs Flowers for  business and personal needs. They choose Coombs Flowers because of “their responsiveness and professionalism to their clients. They don’t allow something to leave the store unless it looks its best.”

Smith went on to say  “every family that we have get flowers from them, the two things they always say are that the price is fantastic and they always give a lot more than expected.”

 Coombs Flowers is open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Visit or call 304-292-1571.

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Jim Coombs at Coombs Flowers on High Street.