Bell Flowers is the featured business in a new Made In Montgomery segment from the County Council and County Cable Montgomery.
The Silver Spring purveyor of fresh flowers and plants, located at 8947 Brookville Road near the Forest Glen Annex, has been in business since the 1930s when the Mangums opened Mangum Florist, and later sold to their daughter, Lola Mangum Bell, in 1947. “It was Mangum Florist, probably since the 30s, and originally started by my great-grandparents. And then, in the 50s, my great-uncle and aunt bought it. And then my parents bought it from them in 1983, and I will be the fourth generation [owner],” said current owner Chad Mangum in the video.
Mangum says that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their supply chain, but the business has remained steady overall. “Actually, at the beginning of 2020, not knowing what was going to come, I decided to put a little air-purifying plant section on our website, and that has exploded. People, you know, since they’re now working from home, want to have a little air-purifying plant on their desk, [and] have a nice little background for your Zoom calls and things like that.
“So we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of peace lilies we’re selling, which are probably the number one house plant we sell. Close behind that would be the orchid plants; those are just beautiful as you can see, you know the blooms, and they last for months. They’ve gotten to be a lot easier to care for nowadays, too.”
Councilmember Will Jawando is a regular customer. “It’s to the point now where I just say I need my arrangements, and they know what they’re doing.”
Mangum says that the best part of the business is its large base of regular customers and the location. “It’s an amazingly diverse community. I’ve been born and raised here and love the county myself. We’re so close to the Beltway right here in Silver Spring, that we can get to basically anywhere in our delivery area within 30 minutes, and that kind of service I don’t think you can really beat anywhere else.”
“It’s one of the reasons why local companies have been here for generations,” said Councilmember Jawando. “They’ve built those relationships. It gives comfort to the people ordering flowers; they’re bringing joy to the people they’re delivering to.”
According to the Made In Montgomery website, the series “introduces you to the CEOs of some of the companies that make Montgomery their home, gets a glimpse of what makes their businesses work, and finds out why they chose to headquarter their companies here.”
Previously, Made In Montgomery #25 featured downtown Silver Spring restaurant & music venue Silver Strings in an episode about four businesses trying to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, with assistance from the Montgomery County government. Silver Strings, which was opened by Zed’s Cafe owner Zed Mekonnen in September 2019, received a Public Health Emergency Grant from the county. “The county grant, they gave us about $10,000, it was really helpful to buy food, keep the payroll and pay the employees,” Mekonnen said in the video about the PHEG program.
Photo: Bell Flowers/Facebook