ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — A beloved, longtime florist in Rocky River has decided to hang up his pruning shears and retire, bringing an end to his family’s flower and gift shop after 77 years of operation.
Jan Dell Flowers, which has called Detroit Road home since 1949, will be closing at the end of the year, owner Jim Lewis said. The business dates back to the waning days of World War II when his late parents bought the business in 1945. Lewis added the retail sales of collectible model trains about 30 years ago.
After his trusted assistant of 35 years retired earlier this year, Lewis said he began to seriously considering winding the business down.
“I’m 74 years old and figured that it was my turn. That’s the reason really,” Lewis said. “If I were healthier and younger and stronger, I would stay here. I really would.”
Through his attention to detail and his dedication to friendly service, Lewis has built a loyal following of repeat customers — "customer friends" as he calls them. Although he previously never seriously considered taking over the family business, Lewis came on board after graduating college and never left.
In that time, he has seen his customers’ children grow up as adults, many of whom have children of their own. That’s one of the understated bonds between florist and client: It is rekindled for each and every important milestone and memory, including high school proms, graduations, weddings and, of course, funerals.
“The adults that are coming in now — that age — they were in high school and we did their prom corsages, homecoming corsages and weddings,” Lewis said. “All of my customers have really wished me well, saying ‘good for you.’ That’s the sad part: I won’t be there to help them anymore.”
Although Lewis plans on closing at the end of the year, he doesn’t plan on having a liquidation sale — or, as he calls it, a retirement sale — until he returns from Florida in the spring. Additionally, Lewis intends on opening a new storefront that would solely focus on his model train business.