[Saratoga TODAY Publisher Chad Beatty contributed to this report. Aerial photo by Dave Bigler; other photos of Charles "Dude" Dehn and John Mishoe provided by Dehn's.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “I have no intentions of retiring,” says Charles “Dude” Dehn, who took a few minutes to sit down this week while raindrops loudly pelted the tops of his greenhouses off Beekman Street.
Taking the reins in 1960, Dude has been at the helm of the city’s oldest flower shop for the past 57 years. Even if you never received a floral arrangement from Dehn’s (but we recommend
you get one), you probably still admire their work on a regular basis and don’t even know it. Every year Dehn’s supplies the city with tens of thousands of flower displays to splash color along Broadway as well as the entranceways to the Spa City.
The Dehn family has run the business since the late 1800s, making 2017 the 125th anniversary of the business. A celebratory barbeque is planned for Sunday, June 11 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to honor that anniversary. It is open to the public.
When asked if he ever takes vacations, Dehn admits that he and his wife Kathy have taken a cruise each winter for over 20 years. They also travel to Las Vegas in October.
From hundreds of miles away, though, the man still thinks about how to preserve his family’s livelihood on Beekman Street and calls to check in.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Dehn said.
Considering the dedicated efforts of more than a dozen employees between two locations and constant assistance from Terri and John Mishoe, Dehn’s daughter and son-in-law, the business can always stand on its solid foundation in the community.
City workers and local landscapers routinely pop in to fill their orders, regardless of the weather. And longtime customers just have to greet Dude himself.
“I like to say I came from nuclear power to flower power,” explained John Mishoe, who manages the greenhouses for Dehn. Dehn’s daughter Terri manages the company’s books. Both Dehn and Mishoe are U.S. Navy veterans.
All three said they have noticed recent changes in local plant preferences for the household, including a shift away from flowering plants toward more “succulents” and edibles like vegetables.
Increasingly, they said, customers also seem to prefer buying potted plants to perennials, which have to be planted outdoors by hand. The business used to sell lots of common shrubs, too, but no longer.
Many dozens of large Boston ferns—with a retail price of $65 each—were hanging in one of several of Dehn’s greenhouses. Most of those potted ferns are likely to adorn the porches of city estates this summer, according to Dehn.
Another noticeable change according to Deb Converse, Dehn’s floral designer, is the wedding category. “Saratoga continues to grow as a wedding destination and the bridal parties have increased in size. Over the years we have seen bridal parties increase from two to three attendants, to eight to ten,” said Converse. “They come to Saratoga Springs for our beautiful scenic offerings as well as our beautiful floral offerings.”
According to Dude and his team, the busiest holidays for flowers are now Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. The company grows its own poinsettias and other annual plants, they said, but buys its roses from a wholesaler in Albany.
Terri Mishoe said she ensures Dehn’s focus remains on supporting student clubs through prom time fundraisers at local high schools. She also organizes company tables at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the summer.
“We like to be city friendly and school friendly,” adds her father.
And he knows his family’s business will continue to thrive even though, by name, he happens to be “the last Dehn” in charge.
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