On the Record with Michelle Schulz

SYCAMORE – Making others feel special and loved is part of Michelle Schulz’s job every day, not only on Valentine’s Day.

Schulz is the manager of Kar-Fre Flowers, 1126 E. State St. in Sycamore.

Schulz, her sister Kris Wrenn, and their staff have been busy preparing for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, which falls on a Sunday this year.

The florist shop is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Orders can be placed online at www.karfreflorist.com, by calling 815-895-6558 or by visiting the shop. Valentine’s Day orders should be placed by noon Saturday, Feb. 13.

Schulz spoke to MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton about Kar-Fre Flowers, business during the pandemic and the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday.

Milton: Tell me about Kar-Fre Flowers.

Schulz: The business was started by my parents, Karen and Fred Rhynders, 48 years ago in August 1972. My dad helps sometimes with the bookwork, but they are both now retired. Now the business is run by my sister, Kris Wrenn, and I. Our shop’s first Valentine’s Day was in 1973, and my dad took me out of school that day to help run deliveries. I fell in love with what we did, making our customers happy. Flowers are a great way to share some happiness and bring joy to others’ lives.

Milton: What is Valentine’s Day like at your shop?

Schulz: Roses are always the hot pick on Valentine’s Day, whether it’s one rose, six, a dozen or more. It doesn’t have to be roses on Valentine’s Day. We can make something unique, something special that reflects your loved one. … February is a little gloomier, snowier and colder, so spring flowers like tulips, with bright colors, are also very popular. Spring flowers remind us that spring is coming and make us a little more hopeful about nice weather.

Milton: Do customers have to order a large bouquet?

Schulz: You can get a big bouquet, or you can get something smaller. You can also just buy flowers without a vase. It’s $7.75 for a carnation, greenery, a bow and a vase. It’s not about how much money you spend, it’s about making a loved one feel special. Sending flowers is a way to spread love and joy. Flowers pick people’s spirits up. They make people feel loved, remembered and cared about.

Milton: How has the pandemic impacted your business?

Schulz: Initially, we shut down in March and then it was just my husband, my sister and me. We had to let our crew go for five weeks, but they came back on May 1. During that time, we were fortunate to have the community’s support. During the pandemic, there haven’t been as many events. Weddings have been smaller and funerals have changed. People are choosing to have smaller celebrations. … We’ve done everything we can to make our delivery drivers and our customers as safe as possible. It’s all about adapting and evolving.

Milton: Will this Valentine’s Day be different?

Schulz: This Valentine’s Day will be a little different, especially because it’s on a Sunday. I think a lot of people will be celebrating on Friday by sending flowers to work. Orders can be delivered or picked up on Saturday. We’ll be closed Sunday, Valentine’s Day. We can also send flowers nationwide, taking orders and sending them to florists in other towns. We will be keeping an eye on the weather. A snowstorm can impact travel and how quickly we receive flower shipments from Chicago. Flower farms, including the Dutch tulip market in Holland, have sporadically closed due to COVID.

Milton: How can customers place an order?

Schulz: Orders can be placed online or by calling. Our shop is also open. Placing an order earlier is better. On our website, you can see pictures of the beautiful bouquets and some other gifts, like teddy bears, that we offer. We partner with The Confectionary to offer chocolates as an add-on.

Milton: Why is buying from a florist different than a grocery store?

Schulz: We do everything possible, everything within our power, to make our flowers last as long as possible. We water our flowers with a floral preservative to make them last as long as possible. Nothing makes us happier than receiving photos from customers whose flowers have lasted weeks. … All of our trucks are preheated. Tropical flowers like warmer temperatures, at least 40 to 50 degrees. We wrap the flowers in poly bags, deliver them in a warm truck and get them delivered to the recipient as soon as possible. We don’t deliver our flowers in a box, and our bouquets are made by professional designers. Making our customers and the flowers’ recipients happy is what matters the most to us.

Katrina J.E. Milton

Award-winning reporter and photographer for Shaw Media publications, including The Daily Chronicle and The MidWeek newspapers in DeKalb County, Illinois, since 2012.