Retail  February 9, 2022

Pam Bricker retires again, this time from her business

GREELEY — This year, Pam Bricker will not be at Mariposa Plants and Flowers for Valentine’s Day. 

Bricker is well known in Greeley for her contributions to revitalizing downtown as the former head of the Downtown Development Authority, but that job sprang from her flower business, and it wasn’t as linear as people think. 

Bricker considered a location for her business out west, just like many business owners, but she chose downtown in 2008 because it was beautiful and perhaps the most visible spot, on the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue, two major streets that met as if they were in a love story. When she got there, she noticed downtown was a little sleepier than she liked, got on the DDA board to help and the rest is history. 

Bricker may have been a non-profit administrator, but she couldn’t help but notice that her job as assistant director for a burgeoning United Way of Weld County seemed a lot more fun than the director’s job. She liked being on the ground, not behind a desk, and so when the director left, Bricker left soon after and started a plant care business with a good friend, Christine Thomas, 37 years ago. Thomas essentially brought Bricker to Greeley: She was a close friend from Nebraska, and when Bricker’s husband, Al, got a job transfer to Colorado, they settled on Greeley in part because Thomas had moved there. 

Bricker loved plants — she would volunteer at a greenhouse in Lincoln, Nebraska, just for the occasional stray they gave her — and so she and Thomas took care of plants for businesses. It wasn’t a cushy job: They took care of Hewlett Packard’s plants in Greeley and Fort Collins, among others, but they did well enough that they were asked about flowers, and eventually they hired a bouquet designer. Babysitting plants turned into free advertising, in a sense, as they strolled through businesses, and their flower shop took off. When Thomas became a mother and wanted to raise her children, Bricker hired a staff that stayed with her for more than 20 years. Not even a fire that destroyed her shop off 10th Street hurt her momentum. 

Bricker was raised by J. James Exon, a father who owned an office equipment business, so the idea of starting a business didn’t scare her. Later, when her staff encouraged her to take the executive director job at the DDA in 2011, the political nature of it didn’t scare her either, as Exon was Nebraska’s governor for eight years until 1979, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served until 1997. He did this as a Democrat in Republican Nebraska, which shows both how good he was and how times have changed. 

“I never wanted to get into politics,” Bricker said, “but I did learn from being involved with it as to what it takes to make things happen.” 

Bricker prefers to credit Bob Tointon, a businessman who bought many of downtown’s buildings and kept them from disrepair as well as founding the DDA, but there is little doubt Bricker shaped downtown into the vibrant, fun place it is today. She and Alison Hamling started Friday Fest, a weekly summer concert series that drew thousands, and she helped bring a hotel downtown. Downtown is now home to award-winning breweries, restaurants, two concert venues, a Nerd store and a movie theater. As downtown grew, her business grew as well, as it became more than a delivery service: Their walk-in customer base exploded. This is why Bricker grins with that half-smile of hers when people talk about her as a selfless savior. Her business DID benefit, quite a bit, from downtown’s resurgence. 


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Danielle DeVore, long-time employee of Bricker’s, now owns Mariposa Plants. Courtesy Danielle Devore

Bricker said her staff contributed to downtown’s success as well, as they took over the day-to-day management when she was otherwise occupied. She just did the “boring” stuff, she said, balancing the books at night.

Having such a loyal, knowledgeable staff made her business thrive, she said, but Bricker’s trust in them after she took over the DDA in 2011 helped them thrive as well, said Danielle DeVore, one of those four employees who stayed for more than 20 years. DeVore bought the store from Bricker on Jan. 1 and will keep Carolyn Rohrig and Deb Hayley as employees. The fourth, Steph Sipres, decided to open her own flower store. 

“It sort of forced me to figure it out and run it the way I wanted,” DeVore said. “That was really good training.”

DeVore said she will keep the name but wants to update the logo, work closely with local growers to reduce the business’ carbon footprint and convert the backroom storage space into a place for events and classes such as repotting and wreath making. 

“The thing I learned the most was how to take care of customers and the community,” DeVore said. “She was very generous with donations and built the name around something more than a flower shop.”

That name probably saved them during the pandemic, as they gambled on reopening for Mother’s Day two months after the COVID outbreak, the store’s biggest holiday of the year. Employees wore masks and worked their tails off, as they always do for the big events, and an outpouring of delivery orders — her staff just left the flowers on the porch, much like food services — saved them. Bricker retired from the DDA in 2019 and planned to do the same from Mariposa but needed to wait until COVID-19 calmed down. 

She will be what she calls a “normal person” now, as her involvement with the Greeley Creative District and the Greeley Blues Jam, which she founded with Al and turned into one of the best festivals in the country, will keep her to “only” 40 hours a week (and maybe even less). She and Al will travel — New Orleans is their favorite, because of the music, but they also love New Mexico — and will continue to volunteer. But she won’t be involved much with Mariposa. One of her vacations will be around Valentine’s Day, which ties Mother’s Day as the busiest day of the year for flower businesses. She knows that her staff — well, it’s DeVore’s staff now — can hack it. 

“I did that on purpose, actually,” Bricker said of leaving town for Valentine’s Day. “They’ll be fine.” 

GREELEY — This year, Pam Bricker will not be at Mariposa Plants and Flowers for Valentine’s Day. 

Bricker is well known in Greeley for her contributions to revitalizing downtown as the former head of the Downtown Development Authority, but that job sprang from her flower business, and it wasn’t as linear as people think. 

Bricker considered a location for her business out west, just like many business owners, but she chose downtown in 2008 because it was beautiful and perhaps the most visible spot, on the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue, two major streets that met as if they were…

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