Biz Q&A: Flower Tent founder recalls fast franchise growth

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
Tom Ansilio - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Tom Ansilio made headlines this weekend for a charitable act, but his story goes back much farther.

Ansilio, founder of Flower Tent, offered to provide complimentary plants from his Blackman Street location to replenish the ruined garden of Wilkes-Barre resident Sharon Butczynski, which was mistakenly cleared by city officials.

What you may not know is that his business has been around for more than a quarter-century, and has spread well beyond Northeastern Pennsylvania through a successful franchise program.

Q: I understand you started Flower Tent in 1992 with a single location in Wyoming? Tell me a little about how you got into the business.

A: I needed money and my father suggested it to me because I was trying to get a new business started. I was in the food processing-business, and my dad said “I used to sell flowers for Easter,” so why don’t I get into that. “Put some money in your pocket and start selling Easter flowers.”

I did well that week of Easter. I told my dad I’m going to the next town over and open up another stand and sell flowers for Mother’s Day. That season I told my dad I love the flower business and I’m going to open up ten more.

The following year I brought my brother into the business and we grew from there.

Q: You started to grow pretty quickly. How big is Flower Tent now and how many locations are there?

A: We have over 100 locations spanning eight states. Our headquarters is still in Wyoming, Pa.

Q: This is a franchise business right?

A: Yes, and a lot of homework and legwork was involved. We started franchising a few years ago. I just got back from helping set up a franchise in Denver. We are also working on the paperwork for a franchise in San Diego.

Q: How important has the support of family been to you in developing the business?

A: You need the support of your family in friends in order to do anything.

Q: What is your busiest time of year?

A: Mother’s Day weekend.

Q: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

A: My best advice is to just stick with it. Times may seem tough but the good days always outweigh the bad.

Q: Any other thoughts on why this industry has been a good one for you?

A: No matter if it’s a good economy or a bad economy, flowers still sell. The only thing that hurts this business is bad weather.

Tom Ansilio Ansilio Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]