LYNDHURST, Ohio – Lyndhurst Florist has closed after serving the Hillcrest community and beyond for nearly a century.
Owner Thomas Santos closed the doors for the last time on Monday January 31, 93 years after his grandmother, Grace Piccino, took possession of the then already 6-year-old business. Lyndhurst Florist ranks only behind Lyndhurst Lumber, 1511 Commodore Road, founded in 1921, as the oldest company in town.
“My grandmother started it in 1929,” Santos said. “Not in this location. They had greenhouses five blocks away on Sunview (Road). My sister (Sandra Uzell, who was in Florida on the last day of the store) and I are third-generation owners.
“Our grandmother (d. 1975) started it and built this building (5268 Mayfield Road) in 1946, and our dad (Al Santos) took it over after WWII. After he died (in 1995 ), my mother (Ellen) took it over from 1995 to 2006, and then my sister and I started running it. It’s a classic family business.
Now 70, Santos started working at his father’s flower shop as a teenager in 1968.
Typically for a florist, the days leading up to Valentine’s Day are important in terms of sales. But, with Valentine’s Day just weeks away, all the shelves in the familiar white building that houses florist Lyndhurst were bare in preparation for closure.
“The reason we chose before Valentine’s Day (to close), the main reason, is the shortage of supply,” Santos said. “There will be a shortage of flowers this holiday. And, like most places, we’re a bit short on help. Due to the combination of these things, we decided it was time.
What set Lyndhurst Florist apart from many of these shops was that, during the warmer months, it sold flowers – the produce of the area’s greenhouses – from the garden at the back of the building. Besides his many loyal customers, Santos mentioned spending days in the sun in the garden as the thing he will miss most about the store in retirement.
Speaking further about the supply shortage, Santos said, “Over the past 15 years we have lost seven of our growers in northeast Ohio. We lost our biggest supplier for our garden flowers last year. They accounted for around 60% of our garden centre’s income. »
Only one supplier remained when the store closed.
He said the energy costs of heating large greenhouses contributed to their demise.
Despite the sadness of a long-running business closure, Santos said there was still hope the store would live on under new ownership.
“We’re in the process of hopefully someone buying us out, keeping the company name and maybe keeping it going for more years,” he said. “And that is our ideal. We hope that will happen. We are in talks with various florists, and it could happen in the next few months. »
After working more than half a century at the store, Santos has come to know and meet the floral needs of generations of families.
“We have a large established following,” Santos said, “and I’m sure they’ll miss us.”
As for his customers, Santos said, “I would like to thank all of our customers for their patronage. It was much appreciated. »
The bachelor Santos said he was looking forward to retirement.
“It’s not this hard to retire,” he laughed. “At least I’ll know if it’s later.”
South Euclid employee Deb Savastano-Cohn, who retired from teaching three years ago in Arizona and returned to the area, closed up shop with Santos on her last day.
“Sandra (Santos’ sister) and I went to middle school and high school,” she said. “So when I came back here, I said, ‘I must have something to do. I liked that. It was fun work. Customers are delighted. (The store) is so generational.
Santos said there hasn’t been much comment on the store’s closure because he only posted the announcement of the closure on Facebook on the last day of opening. A phone message about the closure was also left for those who called the store.
“But I’m sure I’ll get messages on my phone tomorrow and throughout the week,” Santos said.
Lyndhurst Florist dates from a very different time when 20,000 cars a day did not pass on Mayfield Road.
Santos noted that the building was built on a site that once housed a well from which nearby farmers drew their daily water – a suitable place to sell flowers.
The farmers along Mayfield Road are a distant memory, but if negotiations are successful and a new owner moves in, Santos can rest assured that his family’s work will not be a thing of the past.
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