When Bill Burrows moved to Glenmeadow nearly a decade ago, he made his way to the Glenmeadow store and was surprised that his reputation as a long-time shop owner preceded him.
“Are you the new guy?” someone asked him. “We know you owned a business, and we want you to run the store!”
That’s how Bill came to be connected with our very-part-time operation. He and about eight women who are residents volunteer to stock the shelves and make the financial transactions on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Bill does all the buying every other week.
“We have a lot of fun,” Bill says. “It’s a place where you can come and have a visit.”
Residents who volunteer in the store enjoy the chance to socialize and feel a sense of accomplishment. In addition to Bill, they are: Irene Beron, Joan Katz, Cissie Kitchener, Annette Lerner, Janice Reisman, Naomi Schoenberg, Ruth Schwarz, Tanya Snell, and Beth Young. Rick Lavoie, a Glenmeadow team members member, is also an important part of the store team.
The store gives residents the chance to buy things they may have forgotten when out shopping, such as toothpaste, detergent, tissues or paper towels. Greeting cards are also a new hot commodity. Gift items will be coming soon too, Bill says.
Bill and his late wife, Esther—Essie to him—moved to Glenmeadow around 2010. Together, they operated William Burrows Florist in Longmeadow, where they also lived, for 28 years.
Prior to becoming entrepreneurs, Bill and Esther worked for Casual Corner. Bill became a display director, and the job involved traveling to cities across the United States to design displays and open new stores. “It sounds romantic,” Bill says. “But after a while, it got boring.”
The constant traveling also wore Bill out. “‘Essie,’” he recalls telling his wife. “‘We have to do something about this.’”
They agreed to launch a business and agreed that their backgrounds would allow them to well run a flower store; they opened on Longmeadow Street in 1980.
“We could be very creative and bring that to a whole new level,” Bill said. “It was great working with people. The thing I liked about it is we could think outside the box. We could bring so much more to weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and parties with our experience at Casual Corner. It paid off beautifully. We were in the right place at the right time.”
Esther was 16 years older than Bill, and it was she who suggested the couple move to Glenmeadow. She was tired of the work involved in owning a home. “She was born in Longmeadow, and she wanted to stay in Longmeadow,” Bill recalls. “We went to Glenmeadow to visit. We walked in and said hello to the man who was running it at the time (the late Tim Cotz), and that was all we needed to know.”
Tim, our former president and CEO, was very welcoming and made them want to move right in.
At first, the Burrows lived on the second floor. Early on, they were invited to a cocktail party on the first floor in an apartment adjacent to our patio. They fell in love with that view and requested a move to the first floor when available.
Bill said he and his wife—with their great knowledge of all things botanical—helped to develop the garden with its magnificent hybrid lilies and tulips and other summer-long blooms. He now lives in the apartment near the café, which has easy access to and a view of the patio.
“Glenmeadow is easy living,” Bill says. “The people are very, very friendly. You feel a sense of family and community here. You know everybody by their first name. Everybody knows you and your children. It’s a very, very nice place to live.”