For 85 years, Chattanooga Florist has brightened local residents' days with beautiful blooms. Flowers are in owner Judy Hacker's blood — her father, Charles A. Gregg, opened the business in 1933, and his mother and father also owned a flower shop, Charleston Cut Florists, in Charleston, W.Va.
"We've been in Chattanooga since there was a flood down on Market Street," Hacker said.
Chattanooga Florist, like the flower industry itself, has gone through many changes over the years. Its East Main Street location is the third for the shop, which Gregg originally opened on Eleventh Street in what is now The Edney Innovation Center. The business next relocated to nearby Market Street in what is now the Pickle Barrel, before finally moving to its current spot in 1956.
Hacker worked in the family business over the years and always knew she wanted to eventually take it over, but as one of five children, she thought she'd never have the opportunity. Her parents told them that to be fair, whomever they passed the business to would have to buy it.
Hacker's oldest sister worked in the shop at the time their parents were ready to sell it in 2001, and Hacker thought she would be the one to claim the business.
Her sister didn't want to buy the business — she walked out just before Valentine's Day, one of the biggest days of the year in the floral business. So Hacker bought it and resigned from her job at David's Bridal, and she's been running the Southside shop ever since.
Hacker said talking to customers is her favorite part of the business, especially when brides come in and she has to come up with ideas based on what they like as well as what will fit into their budget.
"When they want Champagne but have a beer pocketbook it's hard to make it look that way without the big prices," she laughed.
She said the most popular flowers have gone from roses, gladiolus, carnations and mums to gerbera daisies, calla lilies, hydrangeas and wildflowers.
"I think it's changed because people are going on the internet and seeing different things," said Hacker.
Her four children have gone on to do other things, and she's not sure if any of her grandchildren are interested in taking over the business, but she's not ready to quit yet.
The store is holding a celebration in honor of its 85th anniversary Monday, April 16. From noon to 3 p.m., local radio station 95.3 will be doing a remote broadcast, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. There will also be food, drinks and giveaways.
"It will be really fun, and I would love to meet some people I've only talked to on the telephone," Hacker said.
Chattanooga Florist is at 1701 E. Main St. and can be reached at 698-3303, or visit chatflorist.com.