ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's officially fall, though it may not feel like it in Florida. But at Gallagher's Pumpkins and Christmas Trees, you can pretend.
“I feel like so many people are not from here and so they’re craving that vibe," Ciera Gallagher said. "We’ve been able to create it and it’s really special to us.”
Gallagher's has been a staple in St. Petersburg for more than three decades. It was passed down to David and Ciera Gallagher five years ago. Each year, the pumpkin stand gets bigger and bigger. They now have a food truck, petting zoo, bounce house and thousands of pumpkins.
"It was a big hit for the community," Ciera said. "People just started coming and feeling like it was more of a festival, so we just ran with it. We brought the food truck here and we now have boiled peanuts, and kettle corn – all the things you would feel probably up north."
Small businesses have faced a lot of challenges in the past few years; from the effects of the pandemic to inflation and worker shortages. Some have been forced to close their doors as a result. But Gallagher's has not only survived but thrived.
“Family owned and operated businesses seem to be few and far between," Ciera said. "The simple fact that we’re here 36 years is just special because it’s not just us, it’s the people that come in here. We’ve been seeing the same people who come in here forever.”
The owners are all about keeping Gallagher's tight-knit and local. Their pumpkins are grown up north and shipped down. They've been working with the same family-owned farms in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio for years. In addition, the couple also carries products from local vendors.
“You see a lot of the big box stores, unfortunately their prices have just gone up," Ciera said. "I would say another reason we’ve been able to be so successful and have the following that we’ve had is because we’ve actually been fortunate not to have to jack our prices up a lot because we’re still working with those families. And that’s not what we’re in it for.”
The Gallaghers said it's not easy running a business these days. Despite being able to fight the impacts of inflation, the owners said they are faced with the rising cost of shipping. The couple works seven days a week, more than 12 hours each day and they even live in an RV on the property while the business is in season. But the Gallaghers say it's all worth it in the end.
“When we see the families come in here, the smiles on their face, their kids are running around and they see this pumpkin and they’re like ’this is so beautiful’ – that’s what brings joy to our heart," Ciera said.
Ciera and David look forward to continuing to bring seasonal joy to the community for decades to come — until it's time to pass the business down to their 8-year-old daughter.
Gallagher's is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day on 4th Street North in St. Petersburg. The pumpkin stand just opened for the season last week. Thousands of pumpkins will be on display until Halloween. Then, they'll close for about two weeks before re-opening with Christmas Trees.