For new Grand Food Center floral manager Kevin Hyrczyk, providing flowers to North Shore families is a tradition that’s deeply rooted within his family.
His parents met as teenagers while working for a Chicago North side florist. They married, and eventually opened Driftwood Florists in Skokie. For 36 years, Driftwood produced stunning floral arrangements for families throughout the neighboring communities.
And like most family-run businesses, his parents didn’t have to look too far for affordable help. As an adolescent, he was put in charge of a broom. By the time he was a senior at Notre Dame High School, Hyrczyk was already logging significant hours at the store, and honing his trade.
“I thought about being a lawyer or policeman,” the 42-year-old begins, “but I have no regrets. This is something that I know, and that I can do well.”
After his parents retired, Hyrczyk pondered working for another area florist. But then his sister-in-law mentioned that a Winnetka grocer was looking for floral help. At The Grand, floral manager Susan McDonald provided Hyrczyk’s employment test: create a sunflower arrangement for a waiting customer. Despite its big stems and bulky flowers, Hyrczyk’s steady hands shaped an arrangement that brought an instant smile to the customer’s face.
That’s when he knew he had the job.
As Hyrczyk spent more time in the floral department, McDonald’s loyal clientele began to know him by name. They also noticed his flair for tropical flower designs. Many of his arrangements were prominently featured in area house walks.
Last November, with a heavy heart, McDonald announced her plans to return to Canada to retire. Despite being the only male on its five-person floral staff, Hyrczyk was selected to take her place.
With all the new responsibilities of his new position, the Morton Grove resident couldn’t be busier…or happier. Along with directing the floral staff, and working closely with customers, Hyrczyk orders flowers and supplies, and enjoys managing the entire process from start-to-finish.
“My job is to maintain the level of professionalism of our staff, and to continue The Grand’s tradition of floral excellence, quality and assortment,” Hyrczyk explains.
He’ll be the first to admit that his customers are incredibly astute when it comes to floral designs: they know exactly what they want, and how these flowers should be arranged.
For many professional florists, this would be maddening. But for Hyrczyk, these in-depth discussions about flower varieties and arrangement are what he craves. It’s music to his ears.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but The Grand’s floral department is very good at what it does,” he says. “Plain-and-simple, we provide florist-quality flowers at grocery store prices.”
Many of the flowers Hyrczyk orders through a Miami distributor come from all over the world—including South America, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Italy and Africa.
But the real test, he admits, will come on Valentine’s Day. “That’s our single, busiest day,” he says, drawing a deep breath. “That’s because everyone wants their flowers fresh on that day.”
With the ever-popularity of roses, tulips, and mixed bouquets, this year’s Valentine’s Day is already gearing up to be something special.
“We’re trying to catch up on all of our sleep now,” Hyrczyk says with a grin, “Because come Feb. 14, our floral department will be in full-bloom.”