Jennifer Palma – Edible Arrangements
If you’ve ever had an Edible Arrangement you have no doubt been wowed by its sheer presentation, and then even more impressed by the amazing taste and freshness of the fruit and chocolates. If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?
But for local Edible Arrangements owner Jennifer Palma, there’s much more to the story than helping others celebrate those special occasions in life which have become synonymous with giving or receiving one of their signature arrangements. In fact, for Jennifer, the success story in her business actually begins over ten years ago with the sad loss of her husband, Jimmy.
Jennifer was living what most people would consider to be the American Dream back home in Newfoundland, New Jersey. “Looking back, I had a beautiful life,” Palma reminisces. “I had a wonderful successful loving husband, beautiful loving children, a 25-year career in banking. I had the privilege of serving my community as a Sunday school teacher, church board member, and cultural arts coordinator. I truly had a blessed life.”
Then, unexpectedly, life’s pendulum swung in a different direction. While vacationing in Naples Jennifer’s husband Jimmy became ill. He was diagnosed with a viral infection that severely damaged his heart. He would be placed on a heart transplant list, had a pacemaker and defibrillator put in, and prescribed powerful medications to keep his heart pumping. For Jennifer, Jimmy, and their two children Matthew and Michelle, their entire world would be turned upside down.
Faced with Jimmy’s deteriorating health, the family decided to move to Florida in 2003. “Even though Jimmy knew he was dying he was still looking to start a business, as he never wanted to be limited,” Jennifer said. “But he passed away in 2005. Ironically, it wasn’t his heart, it was cancer.”
Jimmy’s funeral was held back in New Jersey and Jennifer’s brother-in-law Alan presented her with a beautiful Edible Arrangement that one of his friends had sent to give the family. “Even in my darkest hour this beautiful arrangement touched me deeply,” Jennifer recalled. “I still remember what Alan said to me, ‘Hey Jen, you and Jimbo always wanted to start your own business when you moved to Florida, this would be perfect!’” Alan then took the hang tag off the arrangement and stuck it inside Jennifer’s purse.
Devastated by their loss, the family came back to Florida to start the long healing process without their cherished father and husband. As time passed, Jennifer could see that things were far from normal as their pain and grief were not subsiding. However, Jennifer’s faith could not be broken. She took a personal leave of absence from her full-time job to spend more time with her children and began to plan for a new way forward. “As I was going through some bills and papers at home one day, I came across the Edible Arrangement hang tag that Alan had given to me,” Jennifer said. “I remember looking down at it for while… and at that moment I truly believed in my heart that it was Jimmy’s final gift!”
Full of emotion and excitement, Jennifer put her plans into action. She did her research, and when the time was right she resigned her current position.
Sacrificing everything she had in her life up to that point, she managed to open her first Edible Arrangement store in 2007 in Fort Myers. And as Jennifer likes to say, “the rest is history!”
And what an amazing history she’s forged out of that grief – for herself, her family, her employees, her community, and especially for Jimmy. New locations would soon open in Bonita Springs in 2010, North Fort Myers in 2011, Naples in 2013, and a new location in North Naples in the near future. But it doesn’t end there. Just this past August in Las Vegas Jennifer was selected as the 2016 Multi-Unit Owner Award winner – chosen number one out of 1200 stores in the US and Canada, based on professionalism, quality, growth, sales, service, marketing, and community involvement!
“We couldn’t have won such an award without our wonderful team members – every single one of them,” Jennifer proudly states. “I would especially like to thank my daughter Michelle and better half, John. I can’t thank enough all of our managers and team leaders that have made this possible. We want to continue supporting the local charities in our community to the best of our abilities. My dream is to one day be able to help needy children and seniors that live in Southwest Florida on a higher level.”
Giving or receiving an Edible Arrangement is very special. Knowing the story behind how one local entrepreneur has made it all happen, is even better! It started with a hang tag representing profound sorrow and loss, but has led to a wonderful success story honoring Jimmy’s final gift – a business whose goal is to make sure all of its guests celebrate all that is good in life!
For Jennifer Palma and her entire team at Edible Arrangements, the final chapters have yet to be written