WKU to close down the WKU Floral Shop next week

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WKU to close down the WKU Floral Shop next week

Director of Floral Design Training Center and Floral Shop Roger Dennis loads flowers into a truck for delivery on Feb. 14. The Floral Shop’s phone was ringing constantly on Valentine’s Day as customers called in to place orders. The WKU Floral Shop will close on May 6 after local florists have complained the shop was unfairly subsidized competition. According to the statement released by Bob Skipper, director of media relations, “a group of floral business owners” from Bowling Green and Simpson County approached WKU last September, “claiming that the WKU Floral Shop represented unfair market competition because it is partially subsidized by a public university.” In a public Facebook post by Christal Smith McKinney, according to her LinkedIn profile information she is an alumna of WKU, said the charge to close the Floral Shop was led by Warren County Judge-Executive Michael Buchanon. Buchanon, according to business registration information filed with the Kentucky secretary of state’s office , is the president of Deemer Floral Co ., a local floral shop on Lehman Avenue in Bowling Green. Buchanon publicly commented on McKinney’s status and said all the privately owned florists in the region have opposed WKU and “their publicly funded Flower Shop competing against privately funded taxpaying businesses.” He said this feud has been ongoing and dates back to former President Gary Ransdell who, he said, often dismissed the objections of local flower shop owners. “WKU’s Flower Shop has had the use of publicly owned building facilities, floral products, equipment and supplies paid for with mine and your tax dollars, and delivered in University owned delivery vans with Official State license tags. – all paid for with taxes you paid.,” Buchanon said in his comment. The Floral Shop is a revenue dependent program and these programs generate funds independently from the university. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the shop was budgeted to generate and spend $275,000, according to the university budget . Buchanon also pushed back on the assertion made by McKinney that the shop’s closure came as a result of Buchanon asking a favor of Governor Matt Bevin to pressure the university to close the shop. Buchanon said Bevin had nothing to do with the situation. The Herald has filed an open records request for email correspondence between Buchanon and the governor, as well as those in the governor’s office, and reached out to his office for comment. “If you want to know if I’m against the university publicly funding a retail business to compete against privately owned businesses in the same market region. Yes I am,” Buchanon said in his comment. According to the statement Skipper released, WKU officials made a good faith effort to address the questions and concerns of the local florists, and sought to find a solution that would have allowed the shop to continue operating under a public-private partnership. “Unfortunately, this was not acceptable to the group, and the University was unable to resolve their concerns,” the statement reads. The shop also doubles as a […]