The cliché might be that there aren’t many people in this world brave enough to go into business with their mother. Mothers have undeniably lovable qualities, but doing business with them can be another thing entirely. However, there is a mother daughter duo in Winter Haven who have a thriving business together - and admit they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Eighteen years ago, Amy Lanpher had the opportunity to buy a 2-for-a-$1 card store which she moved to Orchid Springs. Orchid Springs was an unfamiliar location to many people and Amy knew that they would have to help customers find them, but once people knew that they were there, they would keep coming back. Because of Amy's aggressive outreach, the business took off. Amy shared that, “Every time a tenant would leave the building, we would expand a little bit,” eventually Amy’s Card Store had taken up the entire building.
As Amy’s business grew, so did her three children. Ashley, Amy’s oldest child, graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Finance and Marketing, and after a job in sales, Ashley decided that she wanted to go into business with her mom. Ashley shared some fond memories saying, “I remember when I was 11 years old my Mom taught me how to use a cash register. Learning business just bled into the entire family.”
One challenge they were still tackling on was appealing to a younger clientele. They reached out to students in the Lake Region High School’s DECA program under the leadership of Tresa Warner, who came to the store and helped them address their concerns. The students made suggestions on branding and even the naming of the store, which eventually changed to Amy’s Cards, Party & Gifts.
Once this mother-daughter duo went into business together, they opened a second store located next to Tijuana Flats on Cypress Gardens Boulevard. For the next 7 years, they sold party supplies, costumes and much more. When LEGOLAND Florida Resort moved to Winter Haven Amy was elated. “We were so excited to have LEGOLAND in our backyard” and as LEGOLAND grew, so did their business.
Ashley looked into adding new niches and product offerings. She contacted the up-and-coming t-shirt company Simply Southern and was able to bring them onboard as a product vendor. Then Amazon came knocking, asking them to start shipping party supplies on their behalf. “We hung up at first because we thought it was a sales call,” she admitted, but Amazon really wanted them and kept asking, so shipping party supplies for Amazon began.
Both Amy & Ashley felt it was time to consolidate and focus on one location, so they jumped in their car searching for a location that could bolster their big dreams. Upon seeing the Fifth Third Bank on Cypress Gardens Boulevard was available, they immediately knew this was to be their ultimate business home and “one-stop-shop” for their customers.
The move to the new location started a transformational branding and marketing domino effect throughout the store. They broadened the variety of products they carried, visually branded the look and feel of the store, and positioned themselves perfectly for both the younger and older markets. “We have really learned how to adapt to what is happening next and businesses who don’t learn that lesson, typically fail.” Ashley said.
Adaptation isn’t the only reason for their store’s success. Amy and Ashley both give much credit to Winter Haven for their thriving business. The misperception that all of their clients are tourists because of their proximity to LEGOLAND, is something these ladies can dispel, as the vast majority of their customers are locals. But whether they are Winter Havenites or travelers from far away, this energetic pair welcomes them with open arms.
Locals don’t just shop at this store, they sell products from here too. This is just one of the ways Amy and Ashley support local business like Winner Haven Apparel, Plant your Flag and Uber Mom. Even when building out the new store they worked with local companies like Everett Whitehead & Son, S&W Cabinets and Cypress Signs – making the project a true collaboration of local talent.
Along with their brick and mortar store, Amy’s Cards, Party & Gifts has an incredible website where all of their items can be located. As they complete an online purchase, customers have the option to pick up in the store or have it shipped directly to them. Their active social media pages have also helped them reach younger customers.
After 18 years of business, Amy and Ashley realize that the secret to success is to always think of ways to be better. “Once you get complacent that’s when things stop moving forward.” Ashley shared, “Focus is key, always be thinking, “What’s the dream?” more often than not, when you stay focused and work hard, the dream occurs.” Amy added.
Both Amy & Ashley want to encourage other business owners to avoid the comfortable and go after their dreams and these two show no signs of slowing down. We, at the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, are so thankful for their investment in our community and the success they have experienced, and this just proves the old saying that, “Two heads are better than one.”
Women in Business
Our Women in Business blog series will be a monthly series that will appear on the blog, social media and our Member e-newsletter, In the News. These articles will highlight the women in our community who have worked hard to get where they are in business today.