1-800-Flowers founder retraces career at Blank Slate event honoring business leaders

1-800-Flowers founder retraces career at Blank Slate event honoring business leaders
founder of 1-800-FLOWERS Jim McCann. (Photo courtesy of Jim McCann)

Jim McCann, founder of 1-800-FLOWERS, started with a singular flower shop in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In a matter of 47 years, he grew that shop until it blossomed into the global flower and gift delivery service it is today.

But his career didn’t start with the flower shop.

McCann used to work in social services, managing a home for teenage boys in Rockaway Beach. While he said the work was rewarding and a passion of his, the pay was not sufficient to support his family. To supplement his income, he began working at a TGI Friday’s.

It was at this second job that McCann met a regular who was selling his flower shop. McCann shadowed him for two weeks and jumped at the opportunity to purchase his business.

But McCann said he didn’t just buy a store but rather a means to build a business. This is exactly what he did, transforming his flower shop into a global company that delivers more than 30 million gifts a year, from flowers to cookies to chocolates.

Now McCann has entered the second act of his career, which is incorporating his successful, global flower delivery company and helping out his community, he told an event honoring  Blank Slate Media’s Top Business Leaders of Nassau County.

Blank Slate Media singled out 45 local business leaders for their impactful work in 2022 in front of 300 attendees Thursday night at Leonard’s Palazzo in Great Neck, with McCann as the keynote speaker for the third annual event.

“Tonight we celebrate a diverse, talented and committed group of people who have embraced new ways of thinking to grow their businesses and serve their clients,” Steven Blank, editor and publisher of Blank Slate Media, said. “They are united by vision as well as a record of success in achieving the goals they have set for their organizations.”

Honorees were recognized not only for their business achievements but also for their philanthropic work serving their community. This included McCann, who described the success in growing his business and how he is now using it to make impactful change in his community.

While building a successful business is a hallmark of a career, McCann said what he valued were the human connections he was able to help foster in the neighborhood of his flower shop.

“You become a part of the community,” McCann said.

And that community grew as his business invested in technology that now delivers flowers and other gifts globally.

“We’re investing to help our customers to act on their thoughtfulness,” McCann said. “The real business we’re in is the relationship business.”

McCann is now expanding on that in what he referred to as the second act of his career to serve his community. He created Smile Farms, a charity inspired by his brother, who has a mental disability.

The Smile Farms employs adults with mental disabilities, including his brother, to grow flowers and plants that they then sell. He said that unemployment rates for adults with mental disabilities are high and the Smile Farms work to diminish that.

He said establishing Smile Farms and seeing it grow from one campus to 10 has been exciting.

“I’m one of the luckiest people in this room and I’m in a room filled with really wonderful and accomplished and lucky people,” McCann said.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here