Escambia County Florist Grandview Celebrates 100 Years of Flowers

Bright chrysanthemums, pink Gerber daisies, white hydrangeas, green stems that grow half-bloom, yellow gladioli and more than just a lily or two line the walls of Grandview Florist.

For a century, the famous florist has been selling flowers to the people of Escambia County to give to the most important people in their lives.

As one of the oldest and oldest local businesses in the greater Pensacola area, Grandview Florist celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this month.

This weekend’s Mother’s Day will mark the 100th straight year that the tiny flower shop, currently located north of Pensacola in the small community of Gonzalez, has sold its flowers to hopeful donors.

“We’re fine,” said Carolyn Brewton. “We are still doing very well.”

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Roots of Grandview Florida Florist

Brewton, 78, of Gonzalez, is the current and latest member of his family to own and operate Grandview Florist.

His grandmother, Elizabeth Krebs, originally opened the Florida-based iteration of the flower business on May 1, 1922, and ownership has remained in the family ever since.

Prior to this, Krebs lived in Dayton, Ohio. She left the state after divorcing her second husband.

“Grandma was a very smart woman,” Brewton said. “But she had a poor choice of men. Very, very, very smart in business and could grow anything – anything. But she was no good with men.”

Grandview Florist owner Carolyn Brewton shows a photo of her family as longtime employee Jean Huff works on a flower arraignment at the shop, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this month.

The family legend is that Krebs’ decision to move to Pensacola was based on seeing an advertisement for Florida in an Ohio magazine.

Whatever her reason for choosing, when Krebs moved to the Gulf Coast, she brought her two daughters and an already well-established Dayton flower business with her.

“We assume it was in Dayton for about 40 years before the move. But we don’t know because the courthouse burned down and everyone died,” Brewton said. “So we can’t say we are 140. We really can’t say we are 100.”

Business flourishes over the decades

Jean Huff, a longtime Grandview Florist employee, is working on a Mother's Day flower arraignment on Wednesday.

The business was originally located on Old Palafox Street. Over the years it moved to Pauline Street in Gonzalez and then to its current address at 1370 South US 29 where it has remained for the past 60 years.

The original name was not Grandview Florist, but Grandview Gardens, as florists used to grow their own flowers.

Krebs bought 104 acres of land when she arrived in Escambia County and built expansive greenhouses in which she grew her shop’s flowers. She also planted fruit trees on the property.

At one point, Krebs even had enough local plants to act as a sort of wholesaler, sending bushels of cut flowers back to Ohio for his old contacts to sell in their own stores.

“There was a post office here and we kids used to take them and go over there and watch them put them on the train,” Brewton recalled of his grandfather’s flowers. -mother.

Out-of-town letters, parcels, Krebs-wrapped flowers, and all other goods would be gently tossed onto the slowly moving train.

“There was just one thing open and they just threw it away. That was when I was little. That was a long time ago. But, oh, if one was missing,” Brewton recalled of of the postal worker. “Oh, it was wonderful, if he missed putting it there.”

Brewton cherishes an old black and white photo of herself as a 4-year-old working in her grandmother’s garden. The old snapshot is worn and on the back it is dated January 22, 1948.

“They were cutting off the handles of the hoe and the shovel so I could use them because I was short. I was short,” Brewton said. “So I’ve been there for 74 years.”

“He definitely has a legacy”

Grandview Florist employee Kathy Elliott handles customer phone orders in the days leading up to Mother's Day.  The Escambia County business celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this month.

Eventually, the florist industry changed. It has become more profitable for local businesses like Grandview Florist to buy their produce instead of growing it.

But despite how the industry has changed over the past century, Gonzalez’s little flower shop is a solid, profitable business with a dedicated staff.

Rick Brooks started working at Grandview Florist 35 years ago.

“I was a delivery driver when I started, then one thing led to another,” Brooks said Wednesday as he unpacked new merchandise in preparation for a flower arraignment.

The store’s other longtime employees are Kathy Elliott, Jean Huff and Mary Robbins.

“It definitely has a legacy,” Robbins said of the venture.

Brewton said the store’s customers were key to helping the business survive the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our customers bought everything they could from us,” Brewton said. “All of my employees, I had to cut the hours a bit and they stayed with me. And that was the last two years, but even then we were able to stay afloat.”

Grandview Florist customer Henry Arnold gets help from Kathy Elliott while shopping for flowers on Wednesday.

Henry Arnold walked into Grandview Florist just as Brooks was about to start work on his new flower arraignment.

Arnold, the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, has purchased flowers for his church and his own personal needs from Grandview Florist for at least 25 years.

“They’re awesome. They’re the best,” he said, later adding, “They do wreaths and stuff for the dead, and I like using them for me, personally.”

Another longtime customer, Laura Cook, said the florist was a special place.

“They’ve done a lot of proms, funerals and Mother’s Day and a lot for the community,” Cook said. “They consider what the customer wants and have done their best over the years to keep their prices as low as possible.

“They’re just a really loving bunch of people who know what their business means to the community.”

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.

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