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The newly-located Jack Neal Floral sits on the corner of West Stimson Avenue and East State Street in Athens, Ohio, on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. The flower shop moved locations after the Union Street fire last year. 

Flower shop struggling to attract business in new location

Jack Neal Floral reopened in late December after its former building was destroyed in the West Union Street Fire. But the city’s unwillingness to approve its sign is hurting business.


Bureaucracy is getting in the way of rebuilding a local business, the owner of Jack Neal Floral said about her shop.

The flower shop moved to an East State Street building in late December after the West Union Street fire destroyed its Union Street location. But the city has yet to give the flower shop’s owners the green light for hanging a sign outside their new location, and it’s impacting their ability to attract business, said Natasha Neal, co-owner of the shop.

“We’re being held back a little bit because the city won’t let us hang our sign outside yet,” she said about the business’s pace since reopening. “I think that would be a big turnaround. ... It’s a little frustrating.”

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The city is making the shop submit permits for state approval before it considers approving the sign. Neal said she has no idea how long that will take, as state approval would require modifications to the new building and an inspection by a fire department.

According to the city’s municipal code, all signs have to meet specific requirements, even regarding what material they’re constructed of and how large they are.

“What kind of time frame that is going to be is beyond me,” Neal said. “But every day we don’t have a sign out there is hurting my wallet.”

Neal said she understands why the process is necessary, but believes it could be done in a better way.

“I think some rules should be changed,” she said. “I realize there has to be rules for that kind of thing, otherwise the area would look trashy. But you want new business in Athens, you shouldn’t be hampering that in any way.”

She added she believes small businesses — not large, corporate chains — are what give Athens its unique character.

Jack Neal’s new location, 80 E. State St., is the former site of a church. The flowers are stored in the church’s sanctuary, separated from the front desk by a plastic curtain.

The shop is locked-in to its current location by a one-year lease. Neal isn’t sure what she and her husband, Davey, who also co-owns the shop, will do once that year is up.

“As far as the other location, I assume it’s going to be a slow rebuild process,” Neal said. “The actual goal would be to pick up and do wonderful here and not have to move again. ... We’re sort of up in the air on that right now.”

Neal said she and her husband want residents to know they’re up-and-running.

“We’re here. It’s the same service we were always providing, just in a different location.” she said. “If we can get the rest of our customers back, I foresee a future even bigger and better than before.”


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