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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Neill’s owner blossoms Pullman floral industry

Mitch Chandler and family runs local florist for 45 years
Mitch+Chandler%2C+owner+of+Neills+Flowers+and+Gifts+and+Neills+Coffee+and+Ice+Cream.
COURTESY OF CHRIS CHANDLER
Mitch Chandler, owner of Neill’s Flowers and Gifts and Neill’s Coffee and Ice Cream.

For 45 years, local business owner and former politician Mitch Chandler has been the owner of Neill’s Flowers and Gifts, a family-owned business and the only full-service florist in downtown Pullman for over a century.

Growing up, Chandler always knew he wanted to work in a flower shop. He attended a floral school and then returned to Pullman to work at Neill’s in 1972 before buying the store himself in 1978.

He has generations of family who also live locally and are currently involved in the business with him, including his wife, son, daughter and grandchildren working and helping out around the store.

“My family is extremely philanthropic and cares about giving back to our community,” Chandler said.

Aside from running Neill’s Flowers and Gifts and their neighboring café Neill’s Coffee and Ice Cream, Chandler believes strongly in being involved and that doing so allows you to meet contacts that come to associate your name with the store. He has served as president of the Pullman Chamber, president of the Pullman Downtown Association, two terms as mayor of Pullman and on various other committees.

In his years as owner of Neill’s, Chandler has experienced many changes in the floral industry, a major one being the technological advancements over the decades.

“In the past, everything was done by hand,” he said. “Now, we’ve introduced a website to take orders online as technology has been changing to meet the inventory.”

As the industry evolves, Chandler said another significant difference between now and when he first started out is that the floral supply chain has become more global.

“The supply chain is better and flowers come from Ecuador, Columbia, and all over the world,” Chandler said. “For example, we originally grew all roses in Spokane greenhouses so the quantity was limited, but now you can order as many as you want and get them shipped here year round.”

A major challenge that many businesses recently faced was the pandemic, and as owner of a store in a college town where students were not on campus, Chandler was no stranger to this.

Neill’s overall sales were down because the store was closed and the restrictions would not allow them to have people inside, Chandler said.

However, Neill’s was able to overcome this, allowing them to still be able to stay afloat and keep their store alive.

“Flowers were one of the only gifts that you can send,” Chandler said.

Roses are Chandler’s favorite floral arrangements that they do in-store, and he said they are one of their strongest sellers. People can place orders from Neill’s Flowers and Gifts either in-store or via their website.

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