Thompson fourth-generation in floral shops

A new florist has opened its doors in Vandalia, and Drake Thompson is the fifth generation of his family to carry on the tradition of providing flowers for the citizens of Vandalia and surrounding areas.

The Turning Leaf is the unique name he chose for his shop, which is located on the north side of the 500 block of West Gallatin Street.
The Family Tradition…
… began when his great-great-grandmother, Rosa (Mrs. John) Merriman),
opened a ceramics and flower shop on her front porch on Eighth Street.
Later, his great-grandmother (Rosa’s and John’s daughter), Lois (Wiss) Greeson, and her mother opened the Merriman Flower and Gift Shop together.
Nancy Gebke, Drake’s grandmother, was trained in the business and worked for them. They later sold the business.
Nancy and Genny Matzker opened a flower shop, Bo-K, and continued the flower business until was later sold to Mr. and Mrs. Terry Brown.
Tammy Westendorf, Drake’s aunt, was taught the flower business by her grandmother, Lois, and mother, Nancy. She later did weddings and decorated homes for special occasions.
Therefore, it sounded perfectly logical when Drake said, “I was inspired by helping with special arrangements with my grandma Nancy and my great-grandma Lois every year for Christmas for family, friends, whoever, and I showed an interest in it then."
And, throughout the years, as he watched his family members create things of beauty from flowers, candles and ribbons, his interest grew, as well as his creativity and natural talent with art.
Preparation for the Future
Drake worked in another florist shop, where he received even more training in the art of floral arranging. “And I learned a lot about decorating from Sid File.”
His Own Florist Business
But it’s not limited to flowers.
“We have all the home décor in here, and candles,” he said.
They stay updated with seasonal decorations. “Nancy keeps everyday things up to date,” he said. “She is so good at what she does, and I always watched her making Christmas decorations and fall decorations … and it all ties in with home décor.”
The Turning Leaf…
“My cousin and a really close friend were just sitting around as we were just starting the business. It was just a thought then; I hadn’t made my mind up for sure.
“I was just checking into things and just thought, ‘I’m turning over a new leaf if I were to do this and the name for the business came to mind. It is something new for me – I’ve turned over a new leaf and the whole leaf part of it, being a fresh florist, etc.”
 “We are a fresh florist, with deliveries, doing funerals, weddings, everyday occasions as well as offering home décor, candles and silk flower arrangements. We also do anything for cemeteries, including blankets and saddles,  
Olde Tyme Christmas is Coming…
Drake said that he is so pleased at having his florist shop in downtown Vandalia, and he is really excited about decorating the store for Christmas. Referring to Olde Tyme Christmas, he said, “When it gets dark, it will look like a Winter Wonderland here.”
Also working in the shop are: Tammy Westendorf, Brandi Cripe, Jamie Henna,and Betty Goodman.
Summing Up
Grandmother Nancy said, “ Drake started as a child doing Christmas centerpieces with his grandmothers and giving (his creations) to family and some of his teachers.
“Everyone shared in Drake’s talent and interest through the years. We’re very happy seeing Drake continuing this family tradition.”
And Drake said, “I want to say that I do appreciate the support of the community. We have had great response here already, and I am so happy to be downtown. I hope this will start a trend for other businesses to come downtown.”   

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