By Eleanor Sevigny John R. Pulliam
Published May 27, 2021 in The Burg
Cook’s and Company located at 367 E. Tompkins St. has been around for almost 40 years. The gift shop/floral shop moved to its current location in June 2018 from its former building on South Seminary Street. “It’s been an Auto Repair shop,” Barb McCommons said. “Then it was Bruce Lauerman’s,” said her daughter and Cook’s and Company owner, Katie Perez. “I bought it from Office Specialists.”
“Five or seven walls were knocked down. Kate’s husband spent over 200 hours sanding, getting all the glue off the concrete floors. The building is five times (the size) of the old building, (with) two and half times the floor space,” McCommons said. Since moving locations, the floral business has really bloomed. “I bet the floral business has doubled, tripled,” McCommons said. “It’s been great, every month (business) has increased. People are definitely finding us. With the other floral shops in Galesburg closing, it’s just us and the two Hy-Vees,” stated Perez. As their floral business has increased both women are grateful that they moved locations. “The old location we worked out of had a really tiny back room.” Perez explained. “It was like a closet,” McCommons laughed. “Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, there wasn’t the stress we had” at the building on South Seminary Street. Both agreed it’s because they have more space at the Tompkins Street location. Perez bought the business 14 years ago. That anniversary was Nov. 7. Her mother worked for Cooks and Company before her daughter became the owner. McCommons has been there 23 years. “Even though I’m her boss, she’s the boss of me forever,” laughed Perez. The younger woman had no retail experience, except for a short time working at Cooks and Company, before buying the business. “I came on board, kind of like with a management position,” Perez said. “It wasn’t long until the previous owner, Jane Boydstun, said she wanted to sell it and that I’d be perfect.” “Kate would come by the store. She was going to Sandburg and would come by and have lunch. That’s how Jane got to know her,” McCommons said. The purchase fulfilled a lifelong dream. “When Kate was maybe 4 or 5, when we came home from the grocery store, it took two hours to put them away,” McCommons chuckled, “because Kate wanted to play grocery store.” McCommons and Perez are grateful for their employees and customers. “We have the best staff that would do anything for Kate. It’s like a family here, the friendship bond is so strong. We also have such loyal customers,” McCommons said. “People from the Quad Cities, Peoria, Burlington, Macomb, they tell us we’re a destination. They drive up to shop here.” Knox College students are included in the loyal customers. Sometimes Knox students will walk to the store on a rainy day. McCommons will then give them a ride back to the college. The students, many of them from big cities, don’t expect it. Cooks and Company is more than the floral shop. The gift shop carries a mixture ranging from food items – such as preserves and gourmet foods - to cards and stationery and everything in between. There’s even a 7-foot tall bubble gum machine that many visitors use as a prop for photos. Cooks and Company is currently open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sunday.