Founded in 1932 by Chester and Nell Whitnah, Capitol Hill Florist and Gifts has one of the longest Family Florist Legacies in the state.
Chester began selling flowers out of his father Louis’ greenhouse in 1928. The greenhouses used coal-burning stoves for heat and as demand grew, Chester built more green houses and added an ice-box (that required a 100lb block of ice every 2 days) and a small sales room. In 1932, they began selling fresh-cut flowers. Chester had 2 acres under irrigation and grew many of their own flowers.
Chester and Nell were an important part of so many families’ lives in Capitol Hill. Even during the difficult depression years, flowers were a source of comfort and an expression of sympathy and joy. And, while World War II raged, they filled many orders from overseas servicemen who wanted to keep that connection at home.
In 1947, Chester bought a “State of the Art!” electric floral refrigerator, and moved in to a new retail shop at 33rd and S. Robinson, in the heart of Capitol Hill.
Nell never met a stranger and was always ready to support a worthy cause. Her signature red hair became a trademark. She would always state that their business began by selling flowers “off of the back porch and out of the cellar.”
On June 26, 1929 Jack Whitnah was born. Chester and Nell’s only child.
Jack literally grew up in the floral business. He joined the 45th Infantry Band in 1948 and was activated to Korea in September 1950. Upon return to Oklahoma City in 1952, Jack went right back to work in the family business.
The staying power of our company is rooted in the unique heritage that our 2nd generation of ownership possessed. Jack Whitnah met Burny Higdon at a florist convention in 1952. Burny’s family owned Higdon’s Florist and Greenhouses, the largest floral and greenhouse operation in the state at that time. Higdon’s began in 1927 on old Route 66 just west of May Avenue, in Oklahoma City.
Jack and Burny were married the next year - April 18, 1953. Burny brought with her the Higdon motto “Many hands together and Soon the Work is Done!” this has become a Whitnah Creed. Jack and Burny began not only a marriage that has lasted 60 years, but also continued to build a business on what they knew best – FLOWERS!
In 1954, Capitol Hill Florist and Gifts moved to 1433 S.W. 29th. The leased space next to T.G &Y. was much bigger and a great location.
In 1964, ground was broken on a 5000 square foot Floral Shop located at 5809 S. Western Ave. This is still the location of our Main Store. Nell was always quoted as saying that at the time they built there was “Nothin’ but MUD from here to Norman!”
From there, the Whitnah family grew the business in good times and survived the bad. And as the business grew, so did the family. Jack and Burny had 4 children; Nikki, Dee Ann, Ted and Kent. After marriages, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren the total # of family members has reached 26!
The whole family (including Burny’s sister Char Higdon-Gulick) would pitch in and help at the biggest holidays. Whether it was design, delivery or just sweeping up, it was and still is a family affair.
Jack and Burny both turned 87 years old in 2016. They are both retired.
And the legacy Continues
In 1990, the 3rd Generation of ownership began. Kent Whitnah carry on the tradition, of reliable freshness and quality of product, along with extraordinary customer service. 4th generation grandchildren have routinely worked their way through high school and college by pitching-in at the shop. Kent and Cindy’s kids do too; Chet (20), Shaley (18) and Cooper (13).
Kent is a Graduate of the University of Oklahoma; BBA, MIS in 1988.
In 1994, the company acquired the local phone # 356-9377. This easy-to-remember phone number spells FLOWERS and has proved to be a very successful marketing tool.
In 2001, Kent partnered with a local Wholesaler to ensure consistent delivery of fresh floral product. Over 95% of Capitol Hill Florists and Gifts flowers are shipped “Cold Chain”. That is, they are kept in a climate controlled environment throughout the shipping process from the farm. This climate control is the single most important post-harvest procedure to ensure freshness and increased longevity of fresh flowers.
In 2005, we built a new large 7000 cubic foot walk-in cooler. All of our flowers and deliveries are kept at 34 degrees until ready for delivery.
We are proud to offer Same-Day Delivery anywhere in Metro Oklahoma City. We typically accept delivery orders up until 2PM. We believe that this is the latest cutoff of for any florist in OKC.
We are Growing.
In 2009, we opened a 2nd store about 5 miles south of the main store. The shop is located at 11904 S. May and specializes not only in floral but also has an extensive line of gift items. The new store is thriving and is filling a much needed niche in the growing Westmoore area.
Couldn’t Do it Alone
While the Whitnah Family has persevered over the last 85 years, we know that the success of our Company is a direct reflection of the effort, skill and dedication of our current employees and many employees over the years.
Our Manager, Patty Wiggins has been with the Company for 22 years. She has been instrumental in our growth and is primarily responsible for the day to day activities at the 2 shops. Patty and the entire staff is an extended family of well-trained professionals with over 150+ years of experience in the floral industry.
In 2016, Kent was very pleased to have Patty join him as a co-owner of Capitol Hill Florist and Gifts.
Awards and Memberships
Teleflora for over 605 years – Top 500 Teleflora Florist Nationwide
F.T.D. for over 60 years
Society of American Florists
Oklahoma State Florist Association
Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce
South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce
Capitol Hill Florist and Gifts has been listed as the Largest Retail Floral Shop in the Oklahoma City area, year after year, in The Journal Record.
In 2017, we celebrated our 85th Anniversary.
We have won or placed in the Top 5 of the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Florist in:
- The Daily Oklahoman
- The Gazette
- The El Nacional
- Moore Monthly
- The El Latino Newspapers.
Kent and Capitol Hill Florist and Gifts are proud supporters of O.U. Athletics and have been continual members and contributors to The Sooner Club, since 1992.