High Profile: Vonda Flanigan
Vonda’s, located at the Villaggio Center, began as a quaint little flower shop in early spring of 1977. Only 900 square feet, with no heat or air conditioning, that first little shop may not have looked like a dream come true, but for Vonda Flanigan, it was. Today she is celebrating 38 years in a store whose customers shop for gifts for all seasons and occasions.
Vonda was born and raised in a small town in Illinois where she met and married her husband, Andy. In 1965 the young couple moved to Fresno where Andy worked as a chemical engineer with Valley Nitrogen. Together they had three children, two boys and one girl. Vonda was a stay-at-home mom who did volunteer work until the idea of a flower shop was born in the late ‘70’s.
Self-trained, Vonda began those early days in her first shop ordering, designing and delivering flowers herself, with the help of her daughter, Trina, a Fresno State student at the time.
Over time the little shop grew, eventually evolving into carrying gifts, as well as floral arrangements, and ultimately led to the delightful dilemma of needing more space. While at their Bullard and West location, Vonda’s continued to blossom, expanding into a full-line china shop, even being honored by a visit from Lord Wedgwood of England, who came as an ambassador for Wedgwood China.
“During his visit, Lord Wedgwood also assisted in raising a beautiful robin’s egg blue Rolls Royce on four Wedgwood teacups and saucers. Being a hot summer in Fresno — guess what? — they sank into the asphalt!” Vonda remembers with fondness.
The store’s move to Fig Garden Village was another “dream come true” for Vonda. Within a few months they opened a Hallmark store, also in Fig Garden Village. A few years later they separated the flower shop from the gift shop, into a third shop. Later, they relocated to the current location at Blackstone and Nees.
The new store brought along with it new ventures like adding more ‘wee one’ items, expanding the gift lines and adding yummy candy. But along with the new we still love having the ‘old,’” says Vonda. “Vonda’s has grown from a tiny shop to what it is today, a store with much to share with the great people who come across our doorstep.”
When asked what advice Vonda would give about having such a successful career, Vonda talked about investing and mentoring young people to reach their full potential. She knows most of her employees’ final career destination is not her shop, but she is committed to teaching them while they work for her, so they can carry that experience with them.
Vonda enjoys baking, gardening and her “pig-out food” is any good hamburger. But a great evening for Vonda is to stay home with her husband and make meatloaf from her mother’s recipe.
“I am often asked when I plan to retire,” Vonda says. “My answer? Not any time soon.”