Uncover the secrets of Steven Mueller Florist’s floral artistry. Join Steven on a journey through 33 years of passion, creativity, and the blossoming tapestry that defines this O’Fallon floral haven.

We’re Bruce and Karen Carlson. We recently moved to the Metro East area of Illinois. It’s a whole new world out there. Our goal with this website is to share our exploration of the Metro East area. As we find businesses and services we use in our daily lives, we’ll share how these businesses and services have helped make our lives better and easier to live.

We’re calling our move to the Metro East area retirement, but we’re not quite sure what that means. By sharing our story with you, we hope you too will gain a better sense of what the Metro East area has to offer and how their businesses and services can improve your lives and build a better community.

On the corner of West 1st Street and South Lincoln is Steven Mueller Florist. It is one of the long-term businesses in O’Fallon. It has a long history of serving the community. As you enter the store you feel a magical sense of wonder and storybook charm. The store is decorated with a Christmas theme.

This is the atmosphere in which I was able to interview Steven Mueller and hear how his shop has evolved over the many years it has been in downtown O’Fallon. As he shared his story I couldn’t help but notice the sparkle in his eyes and the Santa-like tone of his voice. The miracle of Christmas surrounded us as he shared his story. Enjoy the interview.

Magic of Flowers

Bruce:

How did Steven Mueller Florist get started?

Steven:

Well, I worked at a florist in Belleville for 15 years, and then there was a shop in O’Fallon called Fitch Florist. And she knew that I lived in Lebanon, and she said, you know, Steve, I’m getting ready to retire if you’re interested. And so I pondered it and finally decided to buy her store.

We were just two doors down at 105 West First, and we were there for six years. And then we bought this building, and then a few years later, this other side was owned by my former landlord, and he had a jewelry store, and he closed. So then we bought half of that building, and I’m done buying buildings.

Bruce:

What year was that?

Steven:

1989.

Bruce:

Quite a long time.

Steven:

It’s about 33 years. 34?

In business for over 30 years

Bruce:

Do you have any specialties in the designs or the type of trends that you see coming?

Steven:

Not really. We’re doing a lot through one of our wire services. They do a lot of cube vases, and they’re lower and lush. But I think one of the things that people always ask for is a wildflower look. We do a vase that’s just really natural and may have ten to fifteen different types of flowers in it, and people seem to love that.

Bruce:

Are weddings popular, or is there a special area, that you have more business towards?

Steven:

Well, we’re cutting back on our weddings. The staff and I are getting old and it’s a lot of labor. We still do a few a year, but we do a lot more of, unfortunately, funeral work. And I think we’ve got a good reputation for what we provide. I think that’s why our funeral business is so good.

Bruce:

Okay, now here comes a fun question. If you were in an elevator and the door opened and somebody stepped in, what would be your 30-second elevator speech to tell them about the store?

Elevator Speech

Steven:

Oh, I have a flower shop in O’Fallon, and we have gifts, we do a great Christmas open house and a lot of decorations, gift items, gourmet foods, and candy. The candy is up near the register, and the gourmet foods are to the right of the register in that section.

Bruce:

Okay. I’ll have to walk over there and take a look. How do you find the inspiration for the arrays and displays that you create? What’s your process for crafting this array?

Steven:

I think sometimes we look at one item, particularly in silk arrangements and it provides a bit of inspiration. Wouldn’t that be neat to use it this way? Or somebody else will come up with another idea and we just kind of roll with that. And you look at maybe one item and then you think, how can I embellish that? It just evolves.

Bruce:

It sounds like what you’re trying to do is let the situation evolve the product.

Steven:

Correct.

Bruce:

You’re not coming up with a canned supply. You’re saying, well, tell me about what it is you want to do.

Paying attention to needs

Steven:

Right. And I think the big trick in our business is listening to people and letting them tell you what they want and then making suggestions. A lot of times they’ll take your suggestions and a lot of times they won’t. But it’s their dollar and their vision. So you try to make it the best you can.

Bruce:

Right. And like you said, especially with funerals and things, you’re remembering that person. So you’re building that person’s personality into.

Steven:

Yes, into the person’s flower arrangement.

Bruce:

Now, that sort of leads up to the next question, that is, what kind of relationship do you have with the people of the community? What other things might you be doing to help the community?

Steven:

Well, we try to donate to different things. At the community dinner, I always donate food for that. We do try to support different events at some of the schools and try to be involved in downtown O’Fallon. And it’s changed so much since I started because when I started, there wasn’t a lot of retail.

I mean, there was a hardware store, myself, the bakery, a bike shop, which the bike shop is closed but came back in a different fabulous venue. The restaurants have helped immensely. And as I always say, I love the ladies who come downtown for lunch because after the restaurants open, they like to shop.

Thank God, because it used to be like particularly on Saturdays at 10:00 in the morning, you could have shot a cannon down 1st Street and not hit anyone. And that’s not the way anymore at all. Because of the market and other businesses, it draws a lot of people.

A vibrant community

Bruce:

Karen and I have been quite impressed with the town when we come up here to get things. It does seem like a very vibrant community.

Steven:

It is. and I can remember when I first went into business and started carrying gift items there was a person that came in and said to me, “You’re never going to sell this kind of thing in O’Fallon.” And I said, “Why not? They’re buying $200,000 to $300,000 homes. Don’t you think they’ll want nice things?” She never answered me, but I’ve got the answer for her now.

Bruce:

My next question is, “When you get some time off, what do you do?”

Steven:

I don’t take any time off, really. I work seven days a week. I don’t work hard on Sundays. If we have funeral work, I come in and meet the driver. This year, I actually took three days and went to a friend’s childhood friend’s son’s wedding in Chicago. And then my nephew just got married in October in Michigan. And we did the flowers. Took two van loads of flowers up to South Haven, Michigan.

Bruce:

Oh, okay. That’s a bit of a ride.

Steven:

Yes, about seven and a half hours. Let’s say it was a long way. I used to travel a lot when I worked for somebody else, and my parents were always very gracious and took me and my siblings on these wonderful vacations. So, I said to somebody, I had great times traveling, and at this point in life, I don’t get around, so well, I’m glad I did it when I did it.

A labor of love

Bruce:

Your labor is a labor of love. It’s something that you enjoy doing all the time.

Steven:

It does. There are days, but for the most part, yes. And I’ll get here between 630 and 07:00 in the morning. I’ll stay till five. On Saturdays, I go home at about three, and then Sunday is sort of hit-and-miss whatever needs to be done.

Bruce:

What do you see as the future, then?

Steven:

Um, well, people ask me when I’m going to retire, and my statement, sort of a flip statement, is five minutes after I die at the work table back there. So I don’t see myself as retiring. I have a wonderful staff. One of the ladies, Cindy, who’s been with me 32 years, as I like to call her, my work wife, and then other employees. I think the newest one is maybe been here for a year. Most of the staff has been here for five to fifth years. It goes up from there. I’m lucky.

Bruce:

So you’re just going to be here and like you said, until they call.

Until they come and get me

Steven:

The funeral home to come get me, yeah.

Bruce:

Wow, that’s interesting because that’s a whole different approach, I think, than what most people have these days.

Steven:

I love to travel, and when I was in high school, I wanted to go on a study tour and my parents said, you have to pay for it. And it was five weeks in Europe, and I earned every penny of it and went. And I can still tell you day by day what we did. And then, like I said, I went with friends.

We’d go to South Carolina and Cape Cod and spend a week, in different places. And then, of course, my parents took us on these wonderful vacations. So I’ve had a wonderful life, and I’ve seen a lot, and I can still tell you a lot of it. Nobody wants to hear it, but I can.

Bruce:

Do you have any other thoughts or comments that you would want to share with people in this interview? Anything we have missed about your store or what you’re doing, your closing thoughts?

Steven:

I think the one thing I want to say is I love that there’s this whole shop local theme, which has helped our business. Just keep it coming because it’s been wonderful. When COVID hit, we were closed for three months. We did backdoor pickups and met people at the door with flowers and we managed. We kept it open and not the front door, but we kept the business going. There were a lot of people who were very kind to us and helped us through it, and I’m very thankful for that.

So ends a story of blooms

As we concluded our interview, I had the opportunity to walk through the shore and see all the displays. The Christmas theme was everywhere. I couldn’t help but have the feeling that I was in Santa’s workshop. It was a joyful feeling of Christmas cheer. I urge you to stop by and see all that the store has to offer. At the least, you will leave with the gift of Christmas.

We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we share our adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, This is an exciting area and we are so happy to be part of this area. Our lives are being fulfilled by the people we are meeting. Bruce & Karen.

Enjoy the additional pictures from Steven Mueller Florist.