Mark Jones, the fourth-generation owner of Saville Flowers, at 1714 Sherman Ave. (Photo provided)

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Tucked on Sherman Avenue is Saville Flowers, a downtown Evanston fixture still at the same address where it opened in 1942.

“It has always been a big part of my life,” said Mark Jones, the fourth-generation owner of the flower shop. Jones took over after his mother, Gail Jones, and aunt, Booie Burton, retired in 2016.

Eighty years since it began, Saville has changed with the times but remains a fixture in the Evanston community.

Jones recalls growing up at Saville, then flying home from college in Colorado to help with the Valentine’s Day rush and eventually becoming the next generation to assume control of the family business.

His mother, Gail, said it was “an honor” when her son asked to take over Saville a few years ago, after she decided to retire after 40 years.

“I was so surprised when Mark approached me and asked me to take over the flower shop,” she said in a phone interview. “It brings a tear to my eye thinking that he wanted to carry it on.”

As it was for Mark Jones, Saville was always a constant in Gail Jones’ life. Her grandfather, Don Saville, lived on Church Street, a block away from her family. She said she learned about plants and flowers from him at a young age.

Gail Jones was a freshman in college when her grandfather died in 1970 and the business passed to her parents. Sixteen years later, she and her sister Booie Burton took over ownership of the flower shop.

Gail Jones said it felt like a natural step for her; even though she went to college and studied Spanish, she said a part of her was always back at the shop – and most importantly, with her grandfather.

“My grandfather was the best,” she said. “I loved my mom and dad so much, but he was such a strong figure in my life when I was growing up. It [Saville’s Flowers] was really a part of me and what I wanted to do.”

An arrangement in a vase from Saville Flowers. (Photo provided)

While four decades passed and Mark Jones watched his mother carry on the family legacy, he followed the same path: Went to college, studied Spanish, came back and helped with the shop during the holidays and, when it was time, brought Saville into a new era.

Since Mark Jones took over the business, Saville has become active across all social media platforms but specifically Instagram, leaning into a new demographic. 

As grocery stores like Jewel-Osco and Trader Joe’s have ramped up their floral selections, dedicated florists like Saville have had to get creative. Mark Jones rebranded Saville as a boutique business to celebrate the artistry of flower arranging, even posting behind-the-scenes videos on social media where followers can watch the aesthetic process of putting together arrangements.

The first time Jones launched this new online marketing tool, the video received more than 1,500 views in 24 hours.

“We are a visually driven business,” he said. “By being active on social media, it helps put a face to us and build brand loyalty.”

Jones spends most of his day making arrangements and always makes sure to pay homage to classic European floral design, a Don Saville staple.

A colorful bouquet from Saville Flowers. (Photo provided)

At least once a day, Jones said, someone will come to the shop and ask how his mother is, and many Evanstonians make regular visits for holidays just to check in.

“It’s really special when people make a trip to come in and see us, especially on Valentine’s Day and other holidays,” he said. “There is an existing market in our history, and you see people going online but at the same time, coming here is like going to a coffee shop. People know your name and how to take care of you; there is value behind it.”

Gail Jones has moved to North Carolina but plans to return to Evanston this summer to celebrate Saville’s 80th anniversary. Her son says the celebration will include an event with former employees, past owners and all those who have sustained the flower shop over the decades.

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...

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