Two years after starting his business, Flowers by Mike owner Mike Graham is already seeing the fruits of his labor. Earlier this month, the business was voted the best flower shop on Long Island in Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s Best of Long Island 2021 contest.
“It’s just amazing that the community’s been so influential to us, and they’ve been really behind us and keeping us going, and I just can’t thank them enough,” Graham said. “The support and the buying local is there, it’s coming, we see it, and it’s just a great thing to see the community come out and to win a big award with only two years in business.”
Graham opened his shop, at 221 Merrick Road in Oceanside, in January 2018, with the goal of being involved in the community. Last April he launched a second Flowers by Mike shop at 338 Atlantic Ave. in East Rockaway.
According to the contest website, Best of Long Island is “a roadmap to the best, top-notch businesses and services throughout both Nassau and Suffolk counties,” including restaurants, shops and family-run businesses. The residents and patrons who rely on the businesses determine the winners by voting on the contest’s website.
Mike D’Ambrosio, of Oceanside, said he often shops at Flowers by Mike because it not only offers quality arrangements, but also Graham is community-minded. “He’s one of us, so I can’t say enough about the good things he does,” D’Ambrosio said. “The part that excites me is the fact that as a customer, you can’t get a better florist, but at the end of the day, what the guy gives back to the community is more important.”
Graham is a lifelong Oceansider, and attended School No. 3 and Oceanside middle and high schools. He has volunteered in the Oceanside Fire Department for more than 15 years, and is involved in many organizations, including the Oceanside Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Oceanside with his wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Rylie.
Graham called it “amazing” to earn the honor, adding that there were 1.6 million votes cast in the contest overall, but he was unsure how many were for his shop.
The business has also given back to the community in many ways, including at the height of the pandemic in April, when the shop donated 50 arrangements to seniors at the Oceanside Care Center and dropped flowers on stoops of random strangers’ homes throughout Oceanside and East Rockaway. Additionally, the shop offered carnations to a woman who was placing them on nurses’ cars at hospitals, including Mount Sinai South Nassau, to show support for front-line workers.
Graham said the coronavirus took a toll on his business because he had to close his shop from mid-March through early May by order of New York state. He is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, he added, because there has been a shortage of supplies, so costs have increased.
“Another challenge is day to day, you don’t know what’s going to occur with the pandemic,” Graham said. “You don’t know what business is going to be like, and there’s really no way to project anything.”
With Valentine’s Day coming up, Graham said he thinks his shop will likely sell out of product early. He said some positive changes also came with the pandemic, leading his shop to start offering curbside pick-up and increasing its delivery service.
With stores in Oceanside and East Rockaway, Graham said he was hopeful to open businesses in other towns.
“I think in the future, our goal is to continue to grow and to continue to do everything we can to give back to the community,” he said. “Whether it’s fundraisers, hospital donations or anything else, we want to be a place where the community comes, and we want to be a part of something to help others. Whatever we can do.”