Business Leaders of Valencia County
LOS LUNAS — Interested in creating floral arrangements since she was a little girl, Penny Griego, owner of Bloom Flowers & Gifts in Los Lunas, has experienced a lot in her career from working in wholesale to owning her own shop.
Greigo, who bought the shop in 2019, has been in the floral industry for 37 years. As a successful small business owner who has made a name for herself, she shares insight into what makes a business “bloom” in Valencia County.
Apart from having a quality in your product and services, Griego says you have to develop your own reputation, which takes time, hard work and flexibility.
“At the beginning, I was traveling all the way to Rio Rancho to accommodate customers because you have to develop a reputation,” Griego said.
Whether you’re just starting out or are well established, Griego says consistently maintaining a personal touch in one’s work makes all the difference, especially for small businesses who want to have an edge on larger companies.
“For example, I still hand write my cards. There are ways to have it printed, but that personal touch of handwriting the card is one of the smallest details, but I think it’s very important,” she said.
“As small business owners, we have to keep up with the larger corporate companies. You need to have variety and personalized service. Ask yourself what you can do that they can’t.”
Griego said local business owners, especially those in smaller towns, should be in-tune with the community and its tastes and values.
“We listen closely to our customers to see what their favorite items are and make sure we have those available. Whether it’s a character, color or flower …,” she said. “In this county, it’s the red rose, sunflower, daisy and tulip that are popular, so we make sure to have those on hand.”
As many local business owners know, there are numerous challenges that come with running a small business. As an entrepreneur, who opened the year the COVID-19 pandemic began, being prepared for tough times, Griego says, is essential.
“My mom raised us to know that life wasn’t always going to be comfortable so, because of that training I was able to survive, but a lot of flower shops did shut down,” Griego said.
During the pandemic, Griego’s business struggled like many others, but having money set aside was an enormous help.
“Financially, it was difficult. Shipping costs were outrageous. One of our major wholesalers closed, so we just had one available,” she said. “All florists know to put away, to save. So thank goodness I had savings.”
Griego said building good rapport is integral to her shop’s success, so she emphasizes business owners should be very involved in the community.
“I had customers from Jubilee who brought me vases and glass when they were not available during the pandemic. Meta also gave grants to small businesses and I was able to receive $3,000,” she said. “I think that’s one of the biggest strengths in small towns — the support for each other.”
Griego said another way to make it as a business in Valencia County is to become a part of the family.
“A lot of people here are traditional, and if you’ve been supplying a family with their flowers for years on end they’re going to see you as the family florist and continue to do business with you,” she said. “You become like a family member.”
As a final piece of advice, Griego says finding mentors within the community is an invaluable resource.
“Nick Blea is a good businessman and is very community driven,” she said. “He taught me many aspects of how to be a successful small business in this community and to give back because as a small community, we’re all in this together.”
Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.