Michiana's changing families through a rose-colored lens

NOW: Michiana’s changing families through a rose-colored lens


MISHAWAKA, Ind. - A lot has changed in the three decades since America first met the Conner family on the critically-acclaimed show Roseanne. ABC 57's Jess Arnold met one Michiana family who's witnessed a century's worth of change.

“The kids, they’ve grown up here, just like I’ve grown up here," said Greg "Old Man" Powell.

"As busy as we are, as stressful as it can be, we all come as a family together”

11 of them - and a friend - crowded around a table in their century-old flower shop to share their family's story.

"I thank God every day for the kids that we have," said Greg's wife, Cindy Powell.

She says she's loved watching her kids blossom in the florist shop that groomed her and her husband's history.

Greg's granddad started it in 1903, but it's when his dad took over in 1972 that the magic happened.

 “This girl came in and applied for a job as a designer, and my dad hired her, and a year later,this happened," said Greg, holding up their wedding photo.

He and Cindy took over in 1989 - the year after the first season of Roseanne aired.

“It’s been some tough times, I’m not going to lie about that. You do it because you want to do it. You do it because you love to do it. You don’t do it for the money," said Cindy.

“It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle," said Greg.

It's a lifestyle that's given the Powell family a rosy vantage point into the lives of the customers who walk in and out of their doors.

"It’s always tough to try to decide on what people want, what’s going to go, what’s going to be popular," said Cindy.

She's noticed it's become popular to get hitched at an older age, like 20s and early 30s.

Cindy turned 18 the month of her wedding.

"They’re not real young anymore, you know not right out of high school. They’re doing their graduation, college, getting their career established," she said.

Cindy's right.

The Census Bureau reports when Cindy and Greg took over the shop in the late 80's, women were getting married at about 24 years old and men at 26.

The most recent data (2017) shows on average women getting married at nearly 28 and men at about 30.

That's a four-year increase each in three decades.

“I have done different weddings like that, too, with same-sex couples...I would say probably within the last two, three years," said Cindy.

They almost didn't get to make that bouquet, after 2008's financial crisis nearly collapsed their small business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs at small businesses fell 40% during the Recession and represented 60% of total private sector job losses.

"Oh we struggled hard. We just cut down to the bare minimum skeleton crew, and if we had to be here until 8, 9, 10 o’clock at night to get the job done, that’s what we did, because we had to get by," said Greg.

"We either did something right or we were just really totally nuts or crazy just to stay in the business," said his wife.

Just a couple years after they fought their way to stay, their son Ryan's job took a hit.

"When AM General had the big layoff, that hurt a ton of people around this area, and at that time, it was like 2011 I got laid off, and there was hardly anywhere you could get a job at the time, you know...but my wife...she went from being not only a stay at home mom, but to becoming a mom and getting a job just to help us survive," said Ryan.

Now, his wife Stephanie works at Powell Florist.

The florist's stockpile is now filling up with sympathy cards.

“It seems like we have been doing a lot more funeral work...it seems like 60's used to be unheard of you know passing away, and now that seems to become more and more daily...cancer, heart attack...and then there’s been several suicides, too," said Cindy.

"That’s hitting home, you know that’s my age bracket, and you know I’m not here forever, so you’ve got to make every day count," she said.

"It's a lot of fun working with a  product that helps make people happy," said Greg.

"You know the rough times made us tougher. You know, gave us, not everything was given to them on a silver platter...but basically don’t know anything else, I mean this is our life," said his wife.

"We love each other, and I think that brings the family together more than anything, not just the flower shop, but just the love and the character we have for each other," said Ryan.

Echoing his twin's sentiment, Shawn said "and love is one of the main things you need to be a happy family.”

Roseanne will air on ABC on March 27.

For more stats on changing families click on these links:

(Median marriage age) https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/time-series/demo/families-and-households/ms-2.pdf

(Middle income trends) http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

(American Family trends) http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/

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