ALTON - Customer service has always been a simple, yet very important part of the retail business. Good service and treating customers right can oftentimes be the difference in whether or not a business thrives, especially in the long run.

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In the case of Kinzel's Flower Shop, located 723 East Fifth Street in downtown Alton, they've taken customer service to a very high level, oftentimes giving flowers or floral decorations to customers for free as a part of their orders to help lift the spirits of customers who may need it.

Perhaps the best example of the shop's kindness and generosity occurred recently during the holidays and COVID-19 Pandemic. The story told to was that of a customer who recently visited Kinzel's looking to buy a bundle of five sunflowers. The shop didn't carry them but would order them for her. When the customer returned to pick up her order, the shop had wrapped them in beautiful bouquets and complimented them with sprigs of Baby's Breath. When she went to pay for the order, she was told that the bouquets were on the house.

The customer was so impressed by the shop's gesture, she bought Kinzel's Owner Jeff Izard and his shop gift certificates to both Gentelins On Broadway restaurant, and Don and Penny's restaurant. When the customer came by to give Izard the gift certificates, Izard made a Christmas-themed bouquet for the customer, and told her to take it home for free, and display the bouquet in her home.

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"When people send birthday flowers, we send a rose along," said Izard, "and I don't know how many ladies we've adopted, but if we have some extra flowers, we'll make something up and send them to the ladies we've adopted or send them to the nuns at St. Francis."

That refers to the Sisters of St. Francis at St. Anthony's Health Center in Alton, one of many groups who have been the recipients of the shop's generosity and kindness over the years.

"We've got a little list, and it makes us feel good as much as the people we give them to," said Izard, who is a retired steelworker from Laclede Steel in Alton and has been the owner of the shop for 34 years, taking over from his mother after she ran the shop for 30 years after buying it from the founding Kinzel family. Kinzel's has been located at the same address since its founding in 1924, and is an important staple in downtown Alton.

The shop delivers to many places in the Riverbend area, including hospitals, funeral homes, senior citizen homes and apartments, and assisted living and nursing homes. The kindness and generosity of Izard and the shop is always shown in their arrangements.

"It makes us feel good to do this for others," Izard said. "It's not always about yourself. We're always trying to do a good job and to make our customers happy. That's our motto. We always go above and beyond more often than not."

The shop is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays and on the six major holidays.Chris Rhodes also contributed to this story.

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