Florist’s sign resists more than 80 years of growth and change in Uptown


CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Uptown’s towering buildings stand out on a sunny day. They testify to Charlotte’s reputation for growing and rising. But between the construction and the lunch rush sits a 15-foot sign of Charlotte’s past and a family’s legacy.

“A lot of people, when they hear my last name, they say – are you related to that sign downtown?” said Stark Ratcliffe.

Flowers are Stark Ratcliffe’s family affair. They have been for over 100 years. Ratcliffe’s father was a florist and so was his grandfather.

“So I’m third generation and my daughter Ashton just joined me,” Ratcliffe said.

“People will be sending in articles all the time, about the sign and my family’s history,” her daughter, Ashton, said.

Their business started in 1920.

“At 1 a.m. on the third day of September 1920,” Stark reads, looking at old business notes from 100 years ago.

“Being there for 100 years is pretty rare, I know of a few other companies that have been around for around 100 years, but they were all family businesses,” Ratcliffe said.

They now run Derita Floral Supply Company, an extension of Ratcliffe. From around 1940 to 1980, their retail store was just off South Tryon in Uptown, where the Ratcliffe’s Flowers sign still stands.

“The sign is where the physical building was,” Ratcliffe said.

As for this physical building, this is where Charlotte breaks with tradition. Instead of demolishing it, it was moved and placed in the building right next to the sign.

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“The building still exists – it’s there – it’s about 100 feet from that sign and it’s intact,” Stark said.

There was a time when Ratcliffe thought he would sell or even close the business. That’s why Ashton decided to go home and start working with her father.

“The more I thought about it, the sadder I became to lose that family history,” Ashton said.

She is now a fourth generation florist.

“And who knows, it might go on a 5andlaughed Ratcliffe.

A family business of flowers, or really, of happiness.

“It’s mostly a happy company, we like to think it’s either way,” Ratcliffe laughed.


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