Resilient florist Edwards will go out on her own terms

As long as Winnetka has been around, so has Edwards Florist.

That will soon change as the 174-year-old flower shop at 917 Willow Road will close permanently at the end of October.

“It’s time,” said Nancy Hook, who owned and operated the beloved boutique with her husband, David, for more than 30 years.

Edwards Florist sells flowers and fresh produce, as well as seasonal decorations, outside the store, while also providing floral service for special events, such as weddings, funerals, banquets and more.

David and Nancy Hook have owned and operated Edwards Florist for 30 years.

A closing sale, starting at 30% off storewide, is underway at Edwards through October 31. To announce the impending closure of the store and the ongoing sale, the Hooks sent a letter to their customers. Nancy said the response ranged from surprise to tears to a loss of words.

“We have great clients,” she said. “We should thank each of them. Many of them truly believe in buying local.

The Winnetka Historical Society dates Edwards Florist to 1848. Nancy said she has historical records that show the store’s grounds were once measured in ladders and chains. He started mainly sourcing and selling vegetables.

In 1910 George Edwards and his family purchased and renamed the business. They sold it in 1950.

A photograph of the flower shop at 917 Willow Road, estimated to date from 1905.

Ten years later, George Hook, a Round Lake farmer who wanted to continue working with plants, bought Edwards Florist. David Hook said he had helped his father at the store since he was 5 years old and started working there full time in 1975.

When buying inventory for Edwards, David Hook often encountered a saleswoman named Nancy. David and Nancy, who married in 1993, began operating the store after the death of George Hook in 1991.

As the two prepare to retire, they say their family members are unwilling to continue operating Edwards.

Over the years, David has seen three generations come through the doors, and Edwards has worked marriages for couples and years later, their children.

Many things have changed between yesterday and today. Nancy Hook said that while business is good, it hasn’t gotten any easier, as most old-school stores have pivoted to compete in the digital age.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said of the closure. “The little bricks and mortars struggled. But we’ve been through all the wars and 9/11 and even COVID, which changed people’s shopping habits.

It was just one piece of evidence that informed the Hooks’ decision to close their shop.

George Hook, who bought Edwards in 1960. | Photo submitted

Edwards’ aging infrastructure – like its roof and driveway – needs expensive upgrades, and Nancy reckons David has worked seven days a week for the past five years.

Before David’s mother, Ann Hook, died in 2020, she told David she wanted him to give up the store.

“It just got to a point where if we don’t call it over now, then when,” he said.

There’s a lot to do before Edwards is completely gone, but David and Nancy Hook, both in their 60s, are already dreaming of their first vacation in 14 years.

And after the first, maybe another.

“Maybe Australia or New Zealand,” Nancy said.

“Yeah, definitely there, and just seeing more of the United States — traveling,” David said.

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