Kim and Pach Nguon immigrated to the U.S from Cambodia in 1980. As they settled into a new country they worked various jobs to make ends meet when, at the encouragement of her sister, Kim took a florist position at Flowers by Miss Bertha. Under the tutelage of Miss Bertha, the job quickly took the form of an unofficial apprenticeship. Kim and Pach’s daughter Cara, who works at the store full time, recalls the teaching style of Miss Bertha from her many hours at the shop during her childhood saying it was very much a keep up or get left behind style of instruction -- a course in observation and practice rather than formal lessons. When the time came to consider the sale of her business in 1990, Miss Bertha knew she was leaving her shop in capable hands with Kim and her family.
Kim decided to keep the shop’s name as it had already been in business for 29 years and to honor the woman with whom the family remained close until her passing last year. The shop today is truly a family affair. Kim starts her day at 5am, picking up, clipping, and deftly arranging fresh flowers. Pach, who now helps out at the shop after a career as an engineer at Kare11, brings boxes in and restocks the cases. Cara tends to the shop logistics and day-to-day operations. The shop cat, Fiji, rounds out the daily staff at Flowers by Miss Bertha.
Cara emphasizes that this is an old school shop with a lot of business still being conducted over the phone and recorded with a pen and paper, a testament to a business that has been around for over 50 years. She has, however, taken steps to add a digital presence to the shop: they have a full service website for placing orders and requests for same day delivery anywhere in the metro area. Orders for same day delivery must be placed by 11:15am the day of. They offer an extensive selection of cut flowers for all occasions and also feature a “Deal of the Day” for those who may want to leave it in the hands of a professional. A quick scroll through their Facebook and Instagram pages will show you the passion put into their products. Cara says that her favorite part of the job is still the flowers and the people who order them. She is inspired by the variety of reasons people order flowers, even if it’s just a spontaneous gift, and enjoys trying to make the right arrangements for all occasions.
Cara will be taking over the business in the coming years when her parents decide to retire, ensuring that Flowers by Miss Bertha will remain family-owned and operated for years to come. So stop in and check out this gem of Whittier; between the flowers and the friendly folks working, something will surely brighten your day.