George and Mary-Lynn

The Man Who Turned a Part-Time Job into a Blooming Business

By Bigg Success Staff
04-22-08

Success Stories

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Jim McCann started out as a social worker, which didn’t pay so well. So in the early 1970s, he got a part-time job in a floral shop to earn a little extra money. In 1976, he took the plunge and started his own flower business.

He did well in the business, but his one little shop didn’t make that much money. So he opened another one. Then another one. By 1983, he was running a small chain of fourteen stores.

And he was ready for an even bigger challenge!

He had an epiphany one day while getting ready for work. He was listening to the radio as he shaved when the thought struck – he would build a nationwide flower service!

To support that vision, he thought he needed a memorable toll-free number. He found a company for sale that owned 1-800-FLOWERS. What a great phone number! So he decided to buy them.

It was a terrible mistake!

The company had filed for bankruptcy. It was no longer an operating company. In fact, its only asset was the phone number he wanted. But Jim agreed to assume all the liabilities as well. He figured that they couldn’t have any significant debt since they were no longer an operating company.

That’s how he got burned!

Once he owned the business, he starting uncovering the extent of the debt. It was over $7 million! He nearly lost everything he had worked so hard for the previous ten years. His friends told him he should just give up and file for bankruptcy.

But he made up his mind that he would persevere!

He realized that he would have to scale up bigger and faster than he had planned. So he used his original company’s assets and good reputation to borrow even more.

It took about five years to get back on his feet, but he did it!

His next move was to establish an early internet presence. That increased sales even more!

He took his flower company public in 1999. He still continues as the CEO. Last year, 1-800-FLOWERS recorded sales of nearly $750 million!

Jim McCann turned a part-time job into a blooming success!

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Sources

Stop and Sell the Roses, by Jim McCann

1-800-FLOWERS

Jim McCann: My Biggest Mistake, August 1998, Inc.  

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