Shelby Kalina is a homegrown product of Ballinger and the owner of local florist shop “Apples and Spice.” She opened the shop in 2008 and in addition to doing floral arrangements she also sells home décor and is a dry cleaning drop off with a 24-hour turnaround.
Kalina graduated from Ballinger high school in 2005. She went on to attend Texas A&M where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture with a minor in Ag business. Her husband is Jacob Kalina who is from Miles and also attended Texas A&M. He earned his degree in Agriculture Systems Management with a minor in business.
The two entrepreneurs met at Texas A&M and had very busy 2008 according to Shelby, “We got engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2008. We graduated in May 2008. We bought a business in July 2008. We got married in October 2008.”
Just two crazy west Texas kids who went in whole-hog from the beginning, “We were just two broke little college kids. First National Bank of Ballinger gave us the loan to start off our business with. We literally started with just $100 in our account. We’ve had some really bad years and some really good years but we were able to pay the florist shop off in just a few years.”
Somewhere along the way they found time to start a family as well as another business, “Jacob Kalina Farms.” The couple has 2 children, Skylar Kalina who is 6 years old and Briggs Kalina who is 18 months old. The Kalinas are a testament to what hard work, solid morals and business ethics can achieve. They are also a proud example of a west Texas family pulling together and working diligently for a better life.
Shelby speaks of what she feels are the keys to the Kalina success, “Our biggest thing is our college education. That set the stage for everything else. The support of Jacob and my family have helped a lot also.” Shelby’s mother, Paula Frerich and sister, Shayna Neighbors, step in to help out at the shop when Shelby is in need of an extra hand. Even as I’m there interviewing Shelby for the story Briggs is toddling around, keeping mom on her toes. That in and of itself lends to the hometown feel of the shop. You walk in and immediately feel like you’re walking into a farmhouse, tastefully decorated with the feel and smells of home. It’s a business perfectly suited to Ballinger. Just walking around the shop you can see the manifestation of Shelby’s commitment to professional business ideals and the type of expert customer service you can only find in the traditional mom-and-pop shops. The shop is clean, orderly and the merchandise and items are arranged neatly and tastefully. It’s that hometown touch that helps endear the shop to local residents.
Big retail chains and on-line shopping affect the mom-and-pops shops every day, the big hungry corporations and online stores absorbing the little guys or just flat putting them out of business. But the Kalina family finds a way to keep going as they continue to prosper. There is no substitute for hard work and determination. And good business practices bring in loyal customers, “You rely 100% on your customers and family. We are really blessed with all of the good customers we have.”
Shelby’s parents own a mobile rock crushing plant, “They’ve always had a dirt and rock business. My father and brother run it.” As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the determination and entrepreneurial drive is strong in Shelby and her family.
The biggest surprise in her floral shop has been the weddings, “When I bought this shop, the lady I bought it from told me that I’d do one or two weddings in a year. So far in 2019 we’ve already done 30 weddings.” Her work and flower arrangements are in high demand right now. Even with Valentine’s day a week away, she’s focused on weddings. There are several Valentine’s day items in the store such as beautiful stuffed teddy bears and other items. Weddings are her focus and take up a great deal of time, although the store is always staffed by someone such as her mother or sister during operating hours when Shelby is off working a wedding.
Shelby is available if you have a wedding but you’ll need to call her soon, “If someone wants to have me do their wedding, they need to contact me as soon as they set the wedding date. The wedding business is busy right now. “
In the store you can also find spice mixtures in the store for food such as peach cobbler, zesty crab dip, cheesy enchilada soup, etc., “Our biggest thing right now are the weddings. Other than that, we strive to have new and unique items in the store every year, to bring the best to Ballinger.”
Apple’s & Spice Florist is located at 109 N. 8th Street. The phone number is 325-365-3581. They have an impressive 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Facebook and the internet.