July 5, 2019
On a Monday afternoon, Adnan and I arrive at Abo Abdo Takkoush’s flower shop. One of the most successful flower shops in Lebanon. We stand and watch a man with short grey hair wait for his bouquet to be prepared. Once given the bouquet, the man embraces it as he immediately pulls money from his short-sleeved shirt’s front pocket and hands it to the man at the cash register. Meanwhile, a woman is heating a coffee pot on a tiny portable gas stove. She invites us to grab a seat. Sun rays beam through the glass storefront accentuating the colors of the flowers on display. At the cash register, abo Abdo, wearing a black vest and purple checkered shirt, greets us with a smile. Behind him, cards with handwritten names and numbers are pinned to the wall.
Takkoush Flowers recently joined Presentail, with the hope of better satisfying the needs of their customers living abroad, which is a customer segment abo Abdo always wished to serve. Presentail and Takkoush’ partnership has been a wild success because of Takkoush’s historical importance and commitment to quality.
Abo Abdo begins by describing his grandfather’s first venture, fifty years ago, “Takkoush Bakery” on Bliss street, which was eventually let go because of the stressful nature of the work involved in the industry. Today, and after being sold, this bakery is known as “Al Afran al Wataniya”. Then, abo Abdo discusses his father’s career, from working in a barber shop to working part-time at a flower shop which eventually enabled him to open his own flower shop.
At this moment, we hear the coffee boiling, abo Abdo offers us two cups which we can’t really drink because our blood is already infused with caffeine. He, on the other hand, pours himself a small plastic cup of coffee.
The next part of the story is about Takkoush Flowers’ beginning. In the early days, their flowers were all imported from Bulgaria. The store was located at Jeanne D’Arc street in Hamra. The lack of similar shops in Lebanon at the time, and Takkoush’s fresh approach was pivotal to their success. Abo Abdo’s father operated and sustained the Jeanne D’Arc shop for more than thirty years before selling the location and relocating to their current shop in Al Malla. By the time the first shop closed, abo Abdo’s father had accumulated around fifty years of experience in the industry. Coincidentally, and as of this year, the shop in Al Malla has been active for thirty years.
After thirty years, abo Abdo’s work and personal life have intertwined. Talking about his daily routine, abo Abdo says that he wakes up every day at 3:00 a.m., prays, then heads to the flower market at 5:00 a.m. After that, he takes the flowers to his shop at around 8:30 a.m. where his team cleans and organizes the arrangements. He closes shop in the late afternoon. In addition to that, he rarely takes a break, but when he does, he prefers to visit new countries.
When questioned on how the competition in the industry has developed in the past thirty years, abo Abdo debates that the increase in the variety of flowers has become a drive for people to enter the industry as most new entrants are focused on offering an extremely “special” product. He continues by stating that he himself is a firm believer in change and that when the opportunity to bring in new types of flowers arises; he always takes the chance. However, he believes that his expertise offers him a unique advantage in the market.
Finally, we are left to ask ourselves, what is the meaning of success? Abo Abdo has achieved so much in his line of work but never mentioned the word success at any time during our conversation. After thirty years, he is still a man taking risks to stay aligned with his vision of planting a smile on people’s faces through exceptional flower arrangements. Takkoush’s story is one that is enlaced with perseverance, hard work, and passion. It’s a story that highlights the importance of taking chances, grasping opportunities, and doing it all with a smile.