Pat Lewis owned Pat’s Flowers & Gifts for 42 years before she put a note on the store’s front door saying she was retiring and would no longer own the shop.
Meanwhile, Carol Wilson, who lives in Graham with her husband, came to Gibsonville to see the lighting of the tree for Christmas, as they have done for the past couple of years. They were walking around the town when they found Pat’s Flowers & Gifts and saw Lewis’ note.
The next day, Wilson came back with her husband to eat pizza at a local pizza parlor. When Lewis pulled up to Pat’s Flowers & Gifts, Wilson approached her and asked if somebody had bought the shop. Lewis said no but asked if Wilson would be interested.
“I looked down and said I was just asking a question,” Wilson said. “She said, ‘come on in here and let’s sit down a talk.’ So, I came in and we sat down and talked and she told me what she was doing and told me all about the store. I left her and told her I would think about it.”
Wilson talked it over with her husband and decided buying the shop was something she wanted to undertake.
Previously, Wilson had spent 42 years working as a department head of radiology and had retired after working at the Alamance Regional Medical Center. After a hectic and stressful career, Wilson said she hoped her retirement plan would involve volunteering or working in a flower shop.
“When I retired, I needed to do so many things at home that I had not done and then my husband and I would travel and its been five years since I retired and six years since he retired,” Wilson said. “When this became available I thought, ‘you know, I really would like to get back out with people and I think this is something I would really enjoy.’”
On Jan. 1, 2013, Wilson bought Pat’s Flowers & Gifts and became the new owner. Two flower designers, each with over 25 years of experience, work in the store with her. Lewis will continue her involvement as a consultant.
Sharon Clark is one of the designers who worked with both women. She has a degree in floral couture and 28 years of experience in the field.
“When I worked for Ms. Lewis, I was new in the gang so it was a prime opportunity for her to show me what knowledge she could teach me,” Clark said. “It was very valuable at that time for me to work under her and learn everyday floral design.”
She said she enjoys working for Wilson, as well, especially because the tables have changed.
“I’ve been really fortunate to work with some wonderful designers over the years that have taught me things that I could have never learned in a book,” Clark said. “It was hands-on. Now, I get to pass this on to Ms. Wilson.”
Wilson said she is happy she could come out of retirement to take over Lewis’ flower shop. The two women’s love for flowers has kept the store running.