There are many different gems hidden throughout Mississippi State University's campus with the University Florist being a prime example. The floral arrangement shop, located next to the radio station, has served MSU and the Starkville area for the better part of a century and recently celebrated its 85-year anniversary.
The shop specializes in creating unique floral arrangements for a variety of events and occasions, such as Valentine's Day and Greek bid day.
Emily Cartwright, one of the student managers at the shop and Starkville native, grew up knowing the importance of the shop even for those not necessarily from the area.
"The University Florist has been around for a very long time. I grew up in Starkville, so it's always been a big staple of Mississippi State. On game days and big events on campus, people always come by the florist."
Cultivating leaders and enhancing business skills through its operation, the retail shop is run largely by savvy MSU students. These students have a variety of responsibilities ranging from making floral arrangements to organizing the inventory in the storefront. Cartwright attests to this, discussing the largely student-run nature of the store.
"We make the customized flower arrangements, and we organize the show room floor. Mostly the shop is student-based, except for our superiors who handle payroll and place orders for things we need," Cartwright said.
Madison Templeton, a senior horticulture major, learned about the opportunities the florist offers through an advisor and a professor. Although she has not worked with the shop for very long, the experience has been greatly beneficial for her as it has prepared her for her career.
"I found out about an internship here at the University Florist, and I've been here ever since. It hasn't been that long, but the skills that I'm learning here have a lot to do with my career field," Templeton said.
Although the store specializes in floral arrangements, there is a variety of other items at the store to appease anyone. One unique line of items the store supplies is McCarty's Pottery, a Mississippi-made pottery brand. As the only authorized distributor of McCarty's Pottery in Starkville, the Florist receives orders from all over.
"McCarty's Pottery is a really big deal in Mississippi," Cartwright said.
Templeton agreed with her coworker, saying that aside from arrangements, McCarty is a huge source of business for the shop.
"A big part of our retail is the pottery. Many of our customers come in and shop for it. It is something that sets us apart from others. Besides flowers, a ton of people call and ask about our pottery," Templeton said.
It is no surprise many students have no idea what is beyond the window of the Florist. Many students just look through and never venture inside, but those who have entered do not regret it. Cartwright said many visitors come in out of pure curiosity.
"Some people do come inside, and we ask, 'Can I help you?' And they often say, 'I've just never seen this before,' so they come in and explore or just look around," Cartwright said.
Templeton echoed this sentiment, speaking on the amount of people who have never visited the quaint little shop.
"I feel like there are a lot of people who've never been in here. It's kind of like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place," Templeton said.
One such student is Distand Standifer, a senior educational psychology student, who has walked past the windows of the shop repeatedly but looks forward to visiting the store.
"I never knew there was a flower shop here," Standifer said. "One day, I'll have to go inside."
Located at the center of MSU's campus, The University Florist is open Monday through Friday. If you have not explored the retail shop, the student workers extend an open invitation for you to come check out one of Starkville's hidden gems.