Porter’s continues to shine in its 70th year

Shelly Porter-Rupp has owned Porter’s gift shop for more than 20 years. Porter’s was started by her grandmother 70 years ago.
By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series called the 25 Days of Downtown Christmas that will highlight the fantastic selection of retailers in downtown Garden City.

Shelly Porter-Rupp has worked in the family business for 42 years now and is the third generation to own Porter’s, a fixture in downtown Garden City for 70 years.

“I have worked in this building for 42 years, and I have owned the shop as the third generation for 20 years. And it’s been one year now, with this new direction,” she said. “It’s gone well. It’s so different. But it’s a different flow of business and that was a change for me to get used to.”

That change in direction is the discontinuation of the full-service, fresh flower side of the business last year due to some health issues. Porter-Rupp felt she couldn’t maintain the demanding pace required to keep up with that aspect of the business.

“When things happen in a fresh flower shop, it all happens at once. Let’s say I have a big wedding coming up, and at the same time all sorts of unforeseen events happen, plus birthdays, anniversaries, and all those things. That was a demand that was hard for me to negotiate,” she said.

Home Decor and Gifts

Porter’s has since morphed into a home decor and design business, and still offers a wide variety of beautiful gifts and accessories.

“I’m focusing a lot on designs that I do,” Porter-Rupp said. “I’ll have people bring in pictures and I’ll design for them. I try to do things that you’re not going to see from the big box type stores. I’m looking for botanicals that are unique, bringing a new look.”

Shelly’s grandmother, Beth Porter, started the business as a flower shop in her home and garage on Second Street. The city eventually told her that wasn’t a good place for a business so she moved to the current building located at 103 E. Walnut St., which at the time was the Methodist Parsonage.

Shelly said her grandmother, who was widowed and had two children to provide for, bought the building and added a flower showroom to the parsonage which is where the current main entrance is. As the business grew, more additions were made to turn it into its current configuration.

Beth Porter lived in the building and rented another part of it to a dentist, Dr. Stone. In the mid-1960s, Beth sold it to Shelly’s parents, Phil and Vera May Porter, who ran the shop until Shelly purchased the business in 1996.

“I grew up in this, literally. So I kind of learned everything by osmosis, just by being here. For some reason, I had a desire to continue,” she said. “What I really, really enjoy is the people. What I like now about this is I really have time to devote to people, whether we’re talking about something for their home or a gift. I feel like I can give more, I’m not as rushed.”

No plans to retire

Porter-Rupp said she has no plans to retire anytime soon, and chuckled before saying she really doesn’t know what she would do with a lot of free time on her hands.

“I have been really blessed to be here and to be able to enjoy what I do for the years that I’ve done it. Not a lot of people can say that. I mean it’s a job, it’s work, but the joy was there this whole time,” Porter-Rupp said.

Shelly said she has a unique set of family and friends who help out a lot in the store when needed, including husband Mike Rupp, who Shelly said does the books, maintenance, and just about anything.

“We work well together,” she said.

When asked what it takes to be a successful small business owner, Porter-Rupp said it’s offering great customer service and offering things that people can’t get in big box-type stores.

“As a retailer in today’s world, I think small businesses really need to work together to provide what is missing in other avenues of purchasing,” she said. “And that is, knowing our customers, knowing them by name, knowing what they need, catering to that. We have to work really hard to gain business anymore because it is easy to shop other ways.”

Porter’s Christmas business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.