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Longtime Tamaqua flower shop closes

It was a different world when Ed and Donna Smith began operating Edwards Flowers in Tamaqua.

“When we first had this, there were people in here like you wouldn’t believe. We had the greenhouse, and I’d be running from the store back to the greenhouse,” Ed recalled. “We’d be selling planted pots, urns, flats of flowers, flats of vegetable plants. The business was just unbelievable.”

That was 32 years ago.

“Everything really changed as far as funerals and stuff like that. It’s mostly cremations - no flowers,” Ed said Tuesday morning. “Things really changed in the flower business. Times just really changed.”

The Smiths decided to close the 501 W. Broad St. shop on May 31. Since then, they’ve been liquidating what is left.

“We’ll miss the customers, the people,” Donna said.

The Smiths were living and working in Bucks County when they decided to purchase the shop from George Edwards. Edwards ran the store since 1942.

“My name is Edward so we just decided to keep the name,” Ed explained.

From the get-go, it was busy. In addition to filling orders for funerals, weddings, proms, holidays and dances, Edwards Flowers took care of cemeteries throughout the area. The staff would cut grass, plant flowers and fill urns with colorful arrangements.

“We had 500 or 600 of those cement urns that we would plant. There was like a recipe card for each one” telling how it should be planted, Ed said. “They were all over Odd Fellows Cemetery and St. Jerome’s Cemetery (in Tamaqua), Middleport, Brockton and Owl Creek.

The couple’s daughter, Brenda Dementri, remembered visiting the Laurel Mall near Hazleton to tend to indoor and outdoor flowers.

The business also had greenhouses on its 2 acres.

“In 1993, we got a snowstorm that destroyed a lot of them,” Ed said.

By that point, he said, flower tents were popping up around the area in time for Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and other holidays.

“It just didn’t pay,” Ed said. “The flower tents would set up all over the place.”

Churches - many of which ordered floral displays for their altars each week - were closing, too.

And then COVID happened, Ed said.

“COVID changed the whole business. The accessibility of flowers - you never knew what there would be a shortage of at any time. Even supplies like spray paint or green string,” Donna Smith said. “You couldn’t do business as you usually did.”

The Smiths admitted that they’re not getting any younger, and decided to retire so they can relax and focus on their health.

They expressed their appreciation to their customers.

“We want to thank everyone for their past business,” Donna said.

“And their support,” Dementri said.

“And their loyalty,” added John Papanek, the store’s flower designer.

Edwards Flowers was the last florist in the borough.

Ed and Donna Smith, owners of Edwards Flowers in Tamaqua, closed the store on May 31 and are liquidating its contents. The couple operated the business, which was established in 1942, for 32 years. JILL WHALEN/TIMES NEWS
Ed Smith, owner of Edwards Flowers in Tamaqua, stands outside the store Tuesday. He and his wife, Donna, decided to close the store after 32 years in business. JILL WHALEN/TIMES NEWS