I, Matt Rathbone and Becky Rathbone my wife are the owners of Rathbone’s Flair Flowers. We love what we do and love to serve our customers and provide beautiful flowers for events, weddings and all gift giving occasions. Our number one mission is to create, design and deliver exceptional flowers, designed with Flair and backed with service. Our goal each day is to have uncompromised quality and to be efficient, sincere, caring and fabulous in every way. We strive to build strong relationships with our customers, employees, community and suppliers and understand each is vital to our goals. I learned growing up in the business, watching then working with my Mom, Dad and my Brother Mike as they grew our business and adapted to different economies and trends through the years. It all started in the 40’s…
Would you believe we started out as a Ben Franklin Store? It’s true. Way back in 1949 my Grandfather Emmett Rathbone Sr. (Papa) opened a Ben Franklin Store in Aurora Missouri. Not that far away from Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin in Arkansas later to become Wal-Mart. After my Dad, Emmett Rathbone Jr. got out of the Navy after serving during WWII on an aircraft carrier he proceeded to open a Ben Franklin store in Mt. Vernon Missouri.
Dad and Mom operated that store for several years even after they moved to Tulsa in 1958 to open a Ben Franklin store near Cincinnati and Pine. Dad explained to me that they wanted to move to Tulsa for a better opportunity to expand and open additional Locations. During those years Mom and Dad opened seven more Ben Franklin locations.
There was one location located way out in south Tulsa at 51st and Lewis, it was a growing area in Tulsa and nearby was Southern Hills Country Club. A great location but as it turned out, it was not so great for a Ben Franklin store. So, that became the second beginning and the birth of Rathbone’s Flair Flowers Gifts, Cards and well there was probably more names tacked on to that sign. I remember it took up the southern half of the Fike’s Shopping Center. Growing up basically in the store was a lot of fun but I didn’t realize until years later how amazing those times were. Mom, Imogene Rathbone and Dad, Emmett became quite the innovators bringing into the store all kinds of flowers, crafts, gifts, décor, cake decorating supplies, accessories, furniture and Christmas Decorations in part of the store all year long. For that reason, it became a spot that attracted a lot of tourist and busloads of people would stop and enjoy the Christmas Decorations.
The store was over 20,000 sq. ft. filled with merchandise that people in the area craved for. Mom had
her own TV show, a craft show that was on KOTV, it aired on Sunday mornings in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was young at the time but do remember going to the studio once or twice a month to film the shows on Tuesday nights I think, because that was the Red Skelton TV show night. So, I set somewhere in the station and watched TV while they filmed the show. That show and the art and craft classes held at the store set them up as a destination for supplies for artist and crafters.
When I was about 10 years old in 1971 on the day after Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad received a call, I
think from my Brother Mike who had gone into the store to open for one of the busiest days of the year. The store was on Fire, it burnt to the ground, a total loss. During peak season with all the merchandise in the store ready for the Christmas season. None of them have talked much about that day but I know it was heartbreaking not knowing what to do or how to move forward.
They wouldn’t let me go see it but I knew it was bad. The people of Tulsa are Amazing. When you are in trouble, help comes from many and every direction and sometimes from unexpected sources. It took about a week to reopen the shop, well not in that location. The people over at Holiday Hills shopping center at 61st and Yale provided them a space to open a store. It was basically a closeout store. Mike, Mom and Dad sorted through and washed and tried to save as much as possible to sell some of the merchandise they could salvage from the fire. TG&Y provided workers and tons of fixtures to display merchandise on. Many vendors provided close outs to help. Pryor Price of Better Price stores helped as well. The effort of all those people and other businesses helped get them through and rebuild the store at 51st and Lewis. Through the years Rathbone’s have had many locations in Tulsa including Woodland Hills Mall, Fontana shopping center, Bartlesville, Muskogee and the old Brookside Bowling alley that we remodeled and had a beautiful Christmas and Collectible store. In 1995, we started the Collectors Jubilee an annual show that featured collectibles, artist and collectors.
The show brought in Sam Butcher and other artist to sign collections that collectors brought to the show. One year the Antique Road show came to the show and collectors lined the halls to have their antiques evaluated. It was a fun time and we learned a lot about putting on a major event. In 1997 Becky and I took over as owners of Rathbone’s and we operated three locations for a while but eventually we decided to focus on our number one love. So, we closed all the location but one and now our primary focus is running the Flower Shop. We are in Jenks now but we deliver to the entire Metro area including Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Bixby, Glenpool, Sapulpa and Jenks.
I would love for you to come in to visit our store, be sure to say Hi to Becky or Me and if you were one of our customers from years ago let us know what you loved about it. Today at Rathbone’s you will still see some of the things we were known for in the past but with a new vision and style. We may not be Christmas all year around but come fall the whole store transforms into Christmas décor. It’s a beautiful time and Christmas decorations will always be a major part of Rathbone’s. Every year we decorate many homes and business for the Christmas season. We have done the Tulsa International airport for over 15 years. We are honored they continue to choose us to help them with the decorations. Becky and I are excited every day to explore new designs and find new ways to present our creations. We hope you will visit our website at www.shopwithflair.com or give us a call at 918-299-2341.