The End of an Era?

London_flower_shop There’s a story in the New York Times today about a third-generation flower shop in the Bronx.  The owners, two brothers who are grandsons of one of the original owners, wonder if their shop will survive into the twenty-first century.

“We didn’t want the kids to go into the business,” he said. “Flowers have become just another commodity. They’re not special anymore. You see flowers being sold by everyone, everywhere. It used to be something more special.”

Flower shops face many of the same problems other retail shops do–the need to specialize, the need to focus on service, the need to find a niche and survive competition from the big box.  But let’s set all of that aside for a minute and just pause to appreciate that marvelous creation, the big-city flower shop.  Just look at this photo of a shop I passed in London.  What would a city be without its flower shops?

Consider what the Times had to say about Manhattan’s flower shops in the mid-1800s:

Flowers serve a more needful purpose in the economy of nature than we are prone to imagine; and they produce more effect on the dullest minds than many…would acknowledge.

A florist I interviewed for Flower Confidential put it this way:

I love it when people are just rushing down the street, talking on the phone, and I see them stop in their tracks, right here, and just say, "Oh, that’s so beautiful."  In our hurried lives, we miss so much.  At least I make someone stop for a minute.