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Joe Jumper has much more work for a typical wedding now than he did when he first started. What used to be simple flower arrangements have evolved into an expectation of props and creatively incorporating the food for the reception into his creations.
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Joe Jumper says the days of every wedding being held in a church and every reception in a church hall are gone. Now, parks, barns and lakeside retreats are just as common, giving him much more to work with for his wedding arrangements.

Joe Jumper at The Clay Pot gets orders from all over Chattanooga and the surrounding area, so there's no way he can know beforehand who's ordering flowers. When he received an order from James Brown, though, even he had to do a double-take.

"He'd ordered flowers for his goddaughter going to Baylor School," Jumper said.

Sen. Bob Corker and other local politicians, media personalities and musicians have also called on Jumper's service in the 25 years he's been in business.

He's helped celebrate highs and soften lows for his countless clients, and in the process, has grown not only in skill, but also in relationships.

"When we first opened, I'd never done a wedding before," Jumper said with a laugh, admitting that he had to be shown how to make corsages.

But he's now had plenty of time — and opportunity — to practice. Gone are the days of weddings always being in churches and fellowship halls, he said, and gone with them are the artificial flowers and silks popular when he started his business.

"There's more production now," said Jumper. "Now, you do lighting, linens, rentals, all kinds of stuff. You used to just have church tables with a cloth on them, but there's so much more detail now."

That detail has been a boon for The Clay Pot, and for Jumper, who said he gets to be more creative with his arrangements than he ever did when he first opened. It's not just weddings, either. Now, he regularly gets orders for birthdays, workplace holiday parties and baby showers.

Jumper attributes his 25 years of success to the loyalty of his customers. He said he rarely advertises, his active social media pages and word of mouth doing more than enough advertising for his shop. Once he creates the perfect arrangement for someone, they usually come back again, he explained.

"I do a lot with schools here like GPS. I'll do May Day flowers, prom flowers, then the girl will get married and I'll do their wedding, and later, flowers for the baby's first birthday," said Jumper. "You have to keep your customers happy, and we go out of our way to interact with them and the community."

As for how he plans to celebrate his 25th anniversary, Jumper said he's looking into the possibility of holding a drawing for flower arrangements valued at $25 to $50, but with a twist. Instead of the winners simply receiving an arrangement, they instead will win an arrangement to give as a gift to someone else.

"I've done it before and it's been a real big success," Jumper said. "People were so excited to pay it forward in a way."

Contact The Clay Pot at theclaypotriverview@comcast.net or 265-2007 for more information.

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