Jim McCann, Founder of 1-800-Flowers speaks with John Griffin, Publisher of Accessibility.com.
I think we’re at an early point of an age of enlightenment here in that every citizen can make a contribution one way or another.
[...] When we were kids, it was the dark ages. [...] How many schools didn’t even have a special ed program? [...] But I think people are waking up.
Jim McCann, Founder of 1-800-Flowers, is often seen as one of the first innovators to use "phonewords."
Interview with Jim McCann, Founder 1-800-Flowers.com.
Transcript for Interview with Jim McCann, Founder 1-800-Flowers.com.
John Griffin: We’re speaking with Jim McCann. He is the founder of a national brand called 1-800-Flowers. He has a fascinating story that goes back across more than a several decades. Good afternoon, Jim.
Jim McCann: John, how are you today?
John Griffin: Good. Jim, you started with a flower shop and went for -- You had some vision, you saw some things that opened up and tell us how you moved into that business.
Jim McCann: Sure, John. I’ve been fortunate in my life that I’ve had lots of little jobs growing up as a kid and a young person, but only I had two career kind of positions. The first was an accident of sorts. I worked as a -- Well, being as I was an Irish Catholic kid from South Queens, I had a genetic requirement to be a bartender. And being a bartender has led me to both my careers. The first was lucky working in a local pub. One of my customers, a friend, worked at a home and school for boys. And he ran a group home there. And I’d asked him about the work all the time. So, finally said to me, “Geez, you seem like you have an interest in what it is I do.” He said, “Why don’t you come down and have dinner with me and the boys one night?” So, I did that. And we had a nice dinner. He had a two story brick home in a kind of tough, very tough neighborhood in New York City. And he had 10 teenage boys. Well, the oldest was 20, but nine teenagers and one 20-year-old.
And I had dinner with him and he said to me after dinner, he said, “Why don’t you come down to the office, we’ll chat for a bit.” And he said, “Do you think you’d ever like to give this kind of work a try?” So, I said, “Yeah, I think I would.” He said, “Okay.” He flipped me the keys and said, “You’re on duty tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” And that began a 14-year career for me at St. John’s Home for Boys, which was in so many ways, rewarding, challenging, educational, transformational. And here I am, very young, just a year or so older than the oldest boy in the house. And I began my career there as a live-in counselor. So, we had a house mother who would do the cooking and meal preparation and everything. She’d leave by six or seven o’clock. And then it was me until 10 o’clock the next morning, when the day staff would arrive. My job was to keep the kids out of trouble, get them to bed, get them up in the morning, and off to school. And that was -- I would tell you I was awfully bad at it to begin with. And I never realized how much I would become my father in a very short order of time in terms of all the things he said I found myself saying.
So, it was a great way to grow up, personally. It was a great way to learn a lot about myself. I probably crammed a couple of decades of psychotherapy into a year or two. But it was wonderful and rewarding in every way, but one experience. And the one where it wasn’t rewarding was financially; not-for-profit, social services world that is not high-paying. And I had married young then. I got married while I was doing that work. We started a family young and I was always looking around for different ways to supplement my meager income. And I had just a -- My dad was a painting contractor, contractor so grew up working for him, and I learned how to do those things. So, I’d buy buildings in tough neighborhoods, fix them up, renovate them, rent them out or sell them. And now I’m working on Friday and Saturday nights at a nice place on the Upper East Side as a bartender to supplement my income. Now, I’m the administrator at the Home for Boys. So, it’s not a 24/7 live-in job anymore. And so I’m working Friday and Saturday and I supplement my income. I have another friend who owns a flower shop across the street. He’s a regular customer.
And late on a Saturday night, he’d be there often while we’re getting ready to close, and we got chatting. And he said, “You know, I’m going to be selling my flower shop that I own across the street.” I said, “Oh, really?” I said, “Why?” He said, “I have this new business idea I’m going to pursue.” So, I said, “Well, how much are you asking for that flower shop?” And he said, “Well $10,000.” Well, serendipity was that’s exactly the profit I had in the building I’d just sold in Brooklyn. And so I said, “Nick, do you mind if I come work there a couple of Saturday afternoons before I come to work at the bar?” He said, “Sure, but why?” I said, “Well, maybe I’m a buyer.” And I understood retail from having worked in it as a kid and the flower shop business seemed like one job that I could learn. It didn’t seem like it was rocket science. I knew it was easy to get into, because of the entry price point, and I didn’t see any big players in the flower shop business. So, I thought maybe I could McDonaldize the flower shop business. So, two careers, both came about as a result of tending bar, and I enjoy both of them, and in very different ways.
John Griffin: Life is a pickup game.
Jim McCann: It sure is.
John Griffin: You start out wondering where you’re going to go. And then suddenly, it’s there, you know? So, how did you -- You have sort of an interesting story, though, as to how you progressed. You spotted something called 1-800-Flowers. How did you make that decision? How did you make that decision to go from a single store, a second store, to a national brand, which is really an astounding story?
Jim McCann: Well, it was a [inaudible 00:06:14] decision to be a default lesson. The default lesson was I went into the flower business with the idea of building a business, not just becoming a florist, which of course I did. And I opened up the second shop six months after the first one, six months later, third shop. So, I went in with the idea of building up a little chain. What I discovered over the 10 years of opening 40-some-odd flower shops was that there was really no economies of scale. You started to run out of family members and neighborhood friends to work in your businesses, and you really didn’t have scalability. In fact, it might have been a disincentive to scale in terms of your operating overhead. And there’s a reason why flower shops so often, John, or family businesses, because you have these regular businesses here, and then you have these spikes, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, you had these crazy spikes.
And so families are the only ones who could adjust to that because everyone would take vacation days or personal days from the real job to help out in a family business on those peak days when you have a 10X of your normal workflow. And so we saw in our business a disincentive there. So, I was looking around for how else can I grow a business that went beyond opening just more shops. And around that time, 800 numbers had really come into vogue. And they passed some legislation that said the telephone company didn’t own the 800 number, which heretofore they had. They said the consumer, the company, the owner owned the number, and therefore, it was portable. So, if I got my number from AT&T, I can now move it to, at that time, MCI or Sprint, or any of the other telco providers. And so that created a change in the atmosphere. And everyone wanted to have an 800 number, and everyone was doing everything they could to get you to remember their number. So, I remember Sheraton Motels had a campaign on TV with singers and dancers and kick lines, singing 800-325-3535. And they were spending a fortune to get people to remember that. I know one person who remembers the number, that’s me. But I don’t know how effective they were to other people.
So, I said geez, wouldn’t it be easier if you could just dial the number based on the letter correspondence on the phone. So, that caused me to go and find that number, where it was assigned geographically. A couple of guys had gotten together and tried to make a business out of it, but it failed kind of quickly. And so I wound up buying the company that had the 800 number, but there was nothing else left of the company. And so it was a decision, an affirmative decision of yes, there’s got to be a better way because I’d learned a lesson that just adding more shops wasn’t going to get me there.
John Griffin: Legendary story of 1-800-Flowers is it became a nationally recognized brand. Then along comes another guy that you knew, Walter, approached you after you had reached a mile -- rather large milestone in your career. You looked at a situation that was very near and dear to your heart and said, we got to change this, Smile Farms.
Jim McCann: Sure. Let me tell you how that came about. It’s a combination of different things, John. So, my brother Chris and I have been working together for forever. My brother’s 10 years my junior. I’m the oldest of five kids. Chris is the youngest, by 10 years younger than me. And we have two sisters. And in the middle we have another brother Kevin, and Kevin was born developmentally disabled. Back to the company. We’re privileged here at Flowers and our related companies like Carrie and David and Cheryl’s Cookies and Personalization Mall and Simply Chocolate. We have all these gift brands. And we have all these wonderful people work for us, many of whom we find to be very generous with their time and their effort and their money and helping charitable efforts in their communities. And we’re always struck by how generous these people are who we’re privileged to work with.
But what we didn’t have, John ,was one charity that we could really put our wood behind, in the sense of not only our time and our money, but our creativity, and all of our energies. And we were always saying what one charity could we really make a difference with. And we saw the benefits of other companies having done that. I’ve always marveled at McDonald’s with what they did with Ronald McDonald House, and how they had such an impact on such an important group of people in need on a national and global basis, and how that really impacted how people felt about their brand and how people who work there felt about the company they work for because of the work they did. So, always in search of that.
Lo and behold you mentioned Walter, Walter Stockton is a friend and the founder of an organization called IGHL, Independent Group Home Living. And we’re very, very fortunate in that Kevin was in a home in upstate New York a few hours away. And because of that he wasn’t as close and such a strong part of our families as we’d like him to be if he was closest to all of our families geographically. So, I’d been introduced to water back in the early 90s by a mutual friend who asked if we can do some promotional things in support of IGHL. And IGHL, Walter started on his own back over 40 years ago, because he saw that people were being put out of an institution on Staten Island called Willowbrook. And they were being forced back into their communities, but there weren’t enough programs to help them. So, Walter was teaching at Suffolk County Community College, and they went to a local business group and said, “Hey, guys, I’m willing to put up my time and sweat equity here. But there are so many people from our community who now have no place to go who need care. Why don’t we pass the hat and see if we can’t build a group home to at least take care of 10 of those people.” And so we did that over 40 years ago.
Fast forward, IGHL takes care of about 8,000 people a day on Long Island, with day hab programs, with rehab programs, with residential programs, with group homes, with senior living programs, because now this population of people actually lives to the same ripe old ages as the rest of us now. And so sometimes it’s nursing home care involved. Some of them are medically frail, some of them are children with very tough medical conditions. And so Walter just is a creature of growth, and if he knows people are in need, he’s going to try and solve that need. So, we were introduced. We did some work together. And finally I asked him, I said, “My brother Kevin is doing well in this wonderful place in Sullivan County. But we would love to have him closer. Would you mind asking your team to evaluate him to see if he might be appropriate for your group home?” Indeed, he did. In 1994, Kevin moved into one of IGHL group homes, and has flourished ever since.
But six years ago, Walter calls me and says, “Jim, people like your brother, Kevin, and so many other people in my agency are like him that they could and should be working in their community, but I can’t find jobs. But I have an idea.” And his idea was that Chris and I would get out the checkbook. We’d buy a piece of property, we’d build some greenhouses on it, and we create work opportunities for them to grow flowers and plants, because he knew that if they grew them, even though they’re in a not-for-profit world, that we could get -- that our florists would be interested in buying those materials. And indeed, that worked out perfectly.
Jim McCann: Here in the United States 80% of developmentally disabled adults are unemployed, 80%. It’s unacceptable, and we’re going to change that.
Chris: It’s our responsibility in the communities in which we live to help those who live in our communities, to help those in need.
Alec: There are work programs throughout the country from the elementary school age into middle school, high school, they even have college programs. The problem that we have nationally is that you hit a dead end point. So, what we’re doing here at Smile Farms is we’re creating that structure. This is actually a functioning business model. We’re actually putting people to work growing the plants, interacting with the customers.
Cheryl: I love to grow things for my family and my friends.
Nick: [inaudible 00:15:20] they make sure the plants are thoroughly soaked, make sure they’re okay, put the [inaudible 00:15:24] light, cover them up and they grow.
Jim McCann: So, six years ago, we created Smile Farms, where we grew flowers and plants. But over time, we have the same drive that Walter does in terms of there’s so many more people and so many more families in need, how do we do more? So, we start fundraising. What do we find along the way, John? Boy, do walk people here at Flowers take to it. These people are millennials and Generation Z, who everyone told us we’re going to be lazy and self-centered and only interested in their own world. It’s nonsense. They are hardworking, they’re caring, they give their time, their energy. When we’re trying to do one of our fundraising events, we have a half a dozen big events throughout the year to try and raise money to fund our growth efforts at Smile Farms, these people volunteer in droves. And not only that, we get to know them better.
You know, when I get to interact with someone who’s three weeks new to the company, it might have taken me months or years to get to know them under normal circumstances. But when we’re working on a fundraiser together and stuffing bags in a goodie bag, at a golf outing, you get to know people really well. And you get to know the friend that they brought along to help them who doesn’t work for us, who then says, “By the way, I really like what you guys stand for as a company. And I really like what you do in terms of your charitable activities. I’d like to talk to the people in your talent, HR department, because I might want to work here too.” So, it’s had all those cultural benefits and contagion benefits that we hope for but we never imagined how important it would be.
And then, of course, for the people like my brother, Kevin, who work at Smile Farms, you know and I know, we’ve been very, very lucky in our lives. And you know and I know that work is a lot more than about a paycheck. It’s about who you are, it’s your raison d’etre, why you get up in the morning, it’s your sense of community, it’s your sense of achievement. It’s your sense of giving back to your community, making a positive contribution to your community. Oh, and yes, getting paid. And maybe most importantly, it’s social. And certainly, haven’t we learned the social impact during this COVID era.
So, Smile Farms was off to a screaming success right away, and we’ve just kept trying to take that to more and more people. And we’ve seen the benefit it has on individuals in terms of their growth, their experience had, their sense of worth, the impact it has on their whole family, not to mention the group home they might live in, or the program they’re a part of. The rippling benefits are enormous. And so now we keep growing. We now have 10 campuses, John. We’re all around the New York metropolitan area, we’re likely to expand beyond that because the need is universal, the number of people and you --
But John, I’ll ask you this question. Does a week go by that you don’t meet somebody from another family that has someone in special needs in that family too? I can’t find a family that doesn’t have someone with special needs. And it seems like a bit of an epidemic in terms of the impact of this autism wave that they’re experiencing, that there are going to be more and more people who have special needs, who can and should be making a positive contribution to their family, to their community, to the agency they work with, to the companies that they work with. And we just think it’s a darn shame, especially with the challenge on skilled labor and labor of any kind that the country is facing now, that this population of disabled people who are able and qualified the worker, even if we just focus on the the people who are qualified, disabled, yes, but qualified and able to work, 80% of them, 80% are unemployed. And it just seems like a crazy mix match, and we’re trying to do our little part to narrow that gap.
John Griffin: Did you run into any barriers that in any way held you back by government, local regulations, anything like that? Or did you find cooperation when you decided you were going to do this? And did anybody come out and get in your way?
Jim McCann: I wouldn’t say so, John. One of the things that I’m amazed at and gives boys my spirits is how much people want to go out of their way to help. The only thing that I can think of along those lines, it’s the unintended consequences of let’s call it people’s good intentions. I don’t know the people, but I’m sure the intention space that were basically good, but the legislation that you have to pay everybody the appropriate minimum wage in your state, which served as a real blow to people running sheltered workshops. Because some people just can’t command the prevailing minimum wage in terms of their output.
So, now many of those people have been put out of work, or they’re working far fewer hours than they could or should, because of this minimum wage requirement. So, I assume it was well-intentioned, but it had a negative, unintended consequence on the sheltered workshop community, and people with these special needs getting to be part of the workforce. But in terms of municipalities, we’re headquartered here in Nassau County on Long Island, the Nassau County Executive, Laura Curran and there’s a Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone, their teams, their people, their offices, they as individuals have been extremely supportive and go out of their way to say, we need to put more people to work, how can we help you ramp up quicker?
John Griffin: We had an earlier Accessibility Matters discussion with the young man that runs Spectrum Designs over in Port Washington -- [crosstalk]
Jim McCann: Yeah, we’re friends and clients of his. They do a lot of our printing and -- [crosstalk]
John Griffin: Yeah. You know, and he actually, he did one of our sessions at our conferences. We’re talking about the myths and vacating those myths about employing persons with special needs. And so he talked about they do show up on time, they are productive, they do -- they will travel to work, and all the things that -- all the crutches that businesses sometimes throw in the way have been kind of kicked away. By proof positives. I mean, you’re now up to how many employees, 140?
Jim McCann: Small Farms are about 340 now.
John Griffin: 340 persons getting a paycheck?
Jim McCann: Yep.
John Griffin: Yeah, pity is not a part of their lives anymore.
Jim McCann: No, it isn’t. Let me tell you a story that makes that point. IGHL has an annual dinner dance as one of their staples in their fundraising calendar. And it’s always held Thursday, in May after Mother’s Day. And we’re keenly aware of that because it was a Thursday before we couldn’t be there. Very busy. And the Thursday after we’d come up for [inaudible 00:22:51] we’re ready to party.
John Griffin: That’s you got a vacation.
Jim McCann: Well, vacations’ a long way off at that point. But anyway, we were at that IGHL Dinner, just a couple of years ago, and a couple comes up to me to say I just want to thank you and your family for what you do with Smile Farms. And they proceeded to tell me their story. And the story was that they have a daughter and we’ll make up a name. We’ll call her Emily. And Emily had, and you know the story, not hers in particular but this circumstance. They have three children, all grown, Emily, the youngest. She has an older brother, an older sister married and have their own families and live in communities nearby. Emily ages out of school programs, and there is nothing for her to do. So, she sits around all day watching TV and how she has no friends, no social interactivity. She becomes more and more miserable. She gains weight. She’s hard to be around. Mother and father are very much struggling but they can’t leave her alone. [inaudible 00:23:59] leave the house, it’s getting worse.
The father confesses to me that sometimes he finds himself working late at the office even if he doesn’t have to, because dinner had become so miserable at home. Her brother and sister had become less frequent in her life, because she was a troubled person to be around. And lo and behold, the wife had met Walter Stockton at an event. And she told Walter her story and that of Emily’s. And Walter said, “Why don’t you send her down and we’ll see, evaluate her and see if she would be appropriate to find a job at Smile Farms.” Fast forward, she does. She starts working there. And this couple is telling me that Thursday night that their lives have changed. That Emily’s lost weight, her health has improved. She’s still complaining but now it’s about how hard she has to work. And her brother and sister have re-engaged in their lives. It’s turned Emily, Emily’s life around but her whole immediate family. Her brother, her sister, her parents. They said look, she’s still difficult. But now that big question that we all have, when we’re a concerned or responsible person, a parent or person, a sibling of someone with a disability, you ask yourself this question every night when you put your head on the pillow, what happens after I’m gone?
And for my family, we’ve been so fortunate that IGHL, where my brother lives, has answered a big part of that for us. And now that he’s gainfully employed, he and I had dinner together. My wife and he and I had dinner together last night. And he’s chatterbox about what’s going on at Smile Farms, what they’re planting now, what’s growing next, and how he spent the whole week disinfecting, and sanitizing all the pallets they use for the last crop. And he got it all finished on Friday, and he got a special recognition for getting a whole week’s worth of work done in no time at all. So, he’s part of the conversation. He’s not just not sitting there. He’s bragging about what’s going on at work, he has something to talk about, and it’s social. And if you’re socially denied, all of your issues are magnified and multiplied.
John Griffin: And he’s become purposeful. What you just described is a person who, as you said before, you get up every morning, and you have a purpose to what it is that you’re seeing in front of you for the next 15 or 16 hours. And that’s what you do, that’s what I do, and that’s what people like us do. For years that was segregated far, far away from where they were. You can’t do this. Well, it turns out they can do it.
Jim McCann: Do they need extra help? Yes. Do they need different structures? Yes. But it’s so much better for the community, the grand community and the small community when people aren’t just sitting around. First of all, there’s a whole lot of professionals who have to work with them. There’s a whole lot of people involved in the transportation of these people. There are medical personnel involved. We’re buying a lot of products for our greenhouses, we’re growing a lot of products. Friends of mine that are restaurant tours and chefs have stepped up and say, hey, could you grow for us blank, micro-greens, these kinds of herbs. And if you do, I’ll buy everything you can grow and use them in my restaurant.
And then the circle of life kind of thing that happens, John, that is most encouraging, is when you see we have a facility where just about everybody is in a wheelchair, all these kids and they’re profoundly disabled. Yet, just a month ago, when we finished growing in our outdoor raised hydroponic beds, our cucumbers, our tomatoes, and our peppers, we were growing so much we couldn’t use them in all our group homes and all our other not-for-profit facilities. We had extra. And to see them, the pride on their face when they close the door of the truck and the truck takes off to go to the soup kitchen nearby where we give them our produce, our excess produce several times a year, the pride on their face that they know that they were helping somebody else with a different need than theirs. There’s no describing the pride that they demonstrate when they’re in that circumstance.
So, I love the idea of people with one need helping people with a different need. And when I drove my brother Kevin back to his group home last night, and I rode past a senior community, I found myself saying, you know, over 55 community, I bet there’s a lot of people in there who have some time and have some resources who’d like to volunteer and get involved in our Smile Farms campuses. And I was just last night thinking how do I find a way to formalize that and make that happen?
John Griffin: I have a sneaking sense that you will figure it out.
Jim McCann: Well, I’ll certainly try.
John Griffin: You haven’t let fences stand in your way before. You probably won’t this time either.
Jim McCann: But it’s just that whole circle of life. You know, everyone has something to offer.
John Griffin: When I talked to Patrick at Spectrum Designs, they had just opened up like another location over in Westchester County. He said when we were considering this, it was amazing how many communities were stepping up and asking for us to come into their community because they have -- their mentality is beginning to change. The community is saying, okay, when somebody comes through the spectrum, and they’re 21, they’re finished with education, but they have no place to go to get employed, we can do something about that. If you come to our community, we’ll make sure that you get the proper facilities, and so on and so forth. So, it feels like a turning point in awareness that wasn’t here. You know, we’re not that far apart in age. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what the word autism meant, because it was behind a black cloud. I had no idea what it was, until I was -- And even when Patty and I were married first, we didn’t know anybody that had any autism in their family.
Jim McCann: Now?
John Griffin: Now, it’s hard to find the families that don’t. One way or another, somebody’s sister, somebody’s cousin, the numbers are staggering.
Jim McCann: They truly are. I think we’re at an early point of an age of enlightenment here in that every citizen can make a contribution one way or another. As you say, when we were kids, it was the dark ages. These people were hidden away. How many schools didn’t even have a special ed program? I know what it was like for my parents with my brother, they didn’t have any means, and it was very difficult. But I think people are waking up. When you see inspired leadership like County Executive Bellone and County Executive Laura Curran saying, hey, how do we pull together government resources, community resources, corporate resources in a community to make one plus one plus one equal 12? Then you say, wow, good things can happen. This would be relevant to what you’re doing at Accessibility.
One of our campuses is in Brooklyn in the Crown Heights area, I think it is. And they have a very small plot of land outside their building, where we said we were going to do a Smile Farms campus. But they didn’t have a lot of square footage. And so the director there said, “I know what we’ll do. We’re going to grow peppers here. And from those peppers, we’re going to make hot sauce, because people who like hot sauce really like hot sauce. And so we borrowed that idea from him to bring it to all of our campuses. So, we grow all different things on all our different campuses. But the only one crop we grow on every one of our campuses is peppers. Because over the last three years now we’ve been making Heat from the Heart Hot Sauce. And we sell those bottles of hot sauce, and people love it. They tell us it’s really good. The folks in the Brooklyn Grange help us to develop our recipes and sauces and make our hot sauce this time of year each year. And it’s really catching on. And so we’re now looking for more space where we can plant more peppers for next year, because we sell every bottle of hot sauce we make every year.
John Griffin: Well you say that, and then and then I think to when Paul Newman started out with the Hole in the Wall Gang. And you know, he started developing products and so on and so forth that became top-shelf products and in high demand. And -- [crosstalk]
Jim McCann: Indeed they are. And they funded an unbelievable array of programs, including Hole in the Wall Gang camps, which are all over the world now. They’re in Africa, they’re in the Middle East, and it all comes from people saying, hey, I can buy this salad dressing or this salad dressing, but if I buy this one, some kids going to benefit from it because some kid who has a terrible health condition is going to have his first ever camp experience. And that could change his life. I think I’ll take Paul Newman’s own.
I’ll tell you one last story that I was reminded of yesterday. We have a picture that I’ll describe to you in our home in our beach house where I was with my brother Kevin last night. And it was about three years ago on Mother’s Day, I got a call from the promotion people at the Mets. “Hey, because you’re a big promotional partner with us at Flowers, would you like to have someone throw out the first pitch on Mother’s Day?” But clearly I wasn’t available, my brother Chris wasn’t available because we’re all working on Mother’s Day. But we got the idea. So, my sister Julie, took my brother Kevin, who lives in the IGHL group home and is a long-time employee of Smile Farms now, and he is a super Met fan. I think he watches every game and sometimes the encore too.
John Griffin: You’re really in it.
Jim McCann: So, We have this unbelievably great picture of my brother Kevin on the mound at Citi Field from behind the catcher and you can see his picture on the Jumbotron in the background of him winding up, getting set, come to a set position before he’s going to play because he threw a strike. And that night we get back to -- we’re back at my house for dinner late in the evening, because when we all get back from the office in the shops, and Kevin and my sister Julie are there, and she’s shown us the video of Kevin on the mound and the pictures that we’d gotten from the official photographer. And remember our kids, we’ve all had our days, our religious events, like our first communion, graduation from first grade, graduation from middle school, high school, college, wedding days, we’ve all had our days, and Kevin hasn’t had those days other than his accomplishments in Special Olympics. But he said, he gets me on the side that night and I said, “Kevin, how did that feel?” He goes, “Jim, this may have been the greatest day of my life.”
John Griffin: Ah. He may have that wrong, that might have been the greatest day of your life.
Jim McCann: It was a great day and we [inaudible 00:36:01] blow up picture. So, we each have it in our house, and Kevin has it hanging in his room in his group home on Long Island too.
John Griffin: Can you imagine? I mean, I can’t imagine becoming an adult and going through life, and you get an experience like that, and that’s a legitimate response. You know? That may have been the greatest day of his life. And God bless everybody that had anything to do with it.
Jim McCann: Yep. The Mets folks are great. My sister Julie, who’s great with my brother, there cheering him on on the sideline. You see her in the corner of the picture. She just ran a program last week called Sips & Stems that benefits Smile farms. So, a friend of ours who’s one of the best wealth managers in the country, she’s at UBS, her name is Sharon Sager. She pulled together a group of her friends out at the beach of Westhampton at the local country club. And Julie came out and did a program where they sampled wine and they made floral arrangements. So, they just had a grand old time, a couple of few dozen ladies. And they call it the Sips Incentive Program. And women loved it, and were very generous to Smile Farms as a result of this wonderful community building experience they all had together.
John Griffin: The topic that we have under discussion is Accessibility Matters. You deserve all the applause and all the accolades that you can possibly ever find. I know you don’t want them. But --
Jim McCann: The frustrating thing, John, that you know, and which is why you start the business you did, is there are so many more people that we’re not reaching that need what we do.
John Griffin: The fact is that we are reaching. We had this three day conference last week, didn’t know what to expect, brought in some -- Most of the speakers, in fact, all of the speakers, including the keynoters we’re all on a list of people in the disability range, people from Google, people from NBC, and we didn’t know who would show up. Well, we had 2,000 people show up, that sat in on it, you know. So, for an unknown entity that was gratifying.
Jim McCann: Keep on making a difference there, John. Always good to get a chance to speak with you.
AD: This is a group of people who are self-sufficient, who are doing something that’s meaningful, growing these beautiful products that are grown and consumed in their own communities, and feeling awfully good about it. Wouldn’t you smile?