Mother-daughter florists JoAnn Kerfoot and Patty Hayes arrange dual departure

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 07:50 AM

When asked why they were retiring together, the mother and daughter team at Rockhaven Gardens Florist of Patty Kerfoot Hayes and JoAnn Kerfoot laughed and said they want to spend more time together.

“Now we can vacation together, shop or go have lunch together because we could never both be gone at the same time,” daughter Hayes said. “And we can spend much more time with our husbands.”

Hayes started working at Rockhaven with her mother when she was a fifth-grader and would stop by after school to pull leaves, sweep and perform other tasks. Kerfoot was a designer. The shop was down the block from its current location on Harper Avenue in Lenoir and was owned and operated by Jerome Beard.

“My husband, Baxter, says I’m the only person he knows that has never applied for a job,” Hayes said.

Initially Kerfoot was the teacher, but over the years the roles have reversed, especially after Hayes studied interior design at Western Piedmont University and expanded into home décor.

Designs and trends have changed since they purchased the business in 1979. Artificial arrangements were plastic, not silk, and were used primarily for cemeteries, and infrequently in the home. Now individuals incorporate silk designs into more décor because it looks so realistic. The major flower purchases used to be for Easter and Mother’s Day; now it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas and then Mother’s Day. Men are accompanying their wives more frequently, and offer their opinions about décor selections. The business also uses more natural products, such as tree branches, into its arrangements.

“Another big change is prom,” Kerfoot said. “It used to be the young lady and her mother came by to select the corsage. Now they bring in the dress and are also accompanied by their date and his mother. We have a large area where they can select all types of decorative pieces for the corsage.”

One of Hayes' favorite memories was the purchase and renovation of the store's current location in 2008. “We had our open house at Christmas, with over 30 decorated trees plus centerpieces, wreaths and other holiday arrangements. It was so rewarding to hear the oohhs and aahs when people walked into our business.”

But Kerfoot’s favorite memory is of spending every day working alongside her daughter. “It doesn’t get better than that,” she said.

They both agree that their employees and their customers are what they will miss. “They became our friends and are just like family,” Kerfoot said.

The business has been purchased by Tammy Benfield of Delicate Touch in Hudson. Starting April 2, it will operate under the name Rockhaven by Delicate Touch. Benfield will retain all four employees and plans to continue to offer live and silk arrangements and handle weddings, funerals, holiday, and everyday needs.