Family Florist Rocky Mount Closes After 57 Years | Business premises

AILA BOYD The Roanoke Times

ROCKY MOUNT — After 57 years in business, Arrington Flowers closed its doors last month.

Since its opening, the company has been a family affair.

The current co-owner is Marc Arrington. His father, Milton Arrington, and maternal grandmother, Catherine Bennett, started the business on South Main Street in 1965. His mother, who taught English at Franklin County High School for many years, even helped in the shop.

From 1965 to 1978, the store was located on South Main Street. In 1978 the business moved to 190 Franklin Street where it remained until it closed.

Growing up, Marc Arrington worked in the store from time to time. When he got his driver’s license, he started making deliveries.

He went to Virginia Tech to study landscape horticulture. After graduating in 1983, he worked elsewhere for a while before returning to the flower shop around 1987.

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In 1992, he bought the company. Looking back, he said buying the business was the logical thing for him given his experience in the shop growing up and his knowledge of horticulture.

“All those years I’ve been in it, the part I loved the most was the interaction with the people,” he said. A big part of the job, he says, is to make people happy.

For the past 12 years, Marc Arrington, who now lives in Roanoke, hasn’t been as involved in the day-to-day running of the business; however, he still handles most business duties and occasionally works in the store on weekends. His main job is to recruit optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Since he retired from the business, his wife, Denise, has been the manager, designer and co-owner.

Although he’s been in and around the flower business for most of his life, Marc Arrington says the business isn’t what it used to be.

“The florist business was a whole different animal back then in the 80s and 90s. Back then it was booming,” he said. He believes some florists were hurt by Internet and the rise of the sale of flowers in grocery stores.

The business closed at the end of July as Denise Arrington decided to retire.

“It’s a lot of work,” said Marc Arrington, adding that weekends and holidays can take their toll. He also noted that his ability to help at the store is limited by his day job and the fact that his mother is in an assisted living facility.

The day after the business was announced to close, a steady stream of customers stopped by the store. “People were crying. We’ve had a lot of good clients,” he said.

Marc and Denise Arrington plan to spend more time with their family on weekends and while travelling.

Over the years, the management of the store has been assisted by longtime employee Rochelle Simmons. She began working with the Arrington family in the early 1960s. “She’s like a member of the family,” said Marc Arrington. Simmons and a driver both retired when the business closed.

Steve Angle, Mayor of Rocky Mount, acknowledged that many community members are saddened by the closure.

“He was a mainstay at Rocky Mount for many, many years. He provided floral services to the community,” he said. “They will definitely be missed.”

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