Rizzo’s Greenhouse & Flower Shop celebrates 90 years of activity | News, Sports, Jobs
NOTICE — Rizzo’s Greenhouse & Flower Shop turns 90 with four generations and continues to grow.
Located at 2803 Woodward Avenue in Lock Haven Haven, the greenhouse and flower shop have been operated by four generations of the Rizzo family.
The company is currently run by Paul and Cathy Rizzo.
The history of the famous local greenhouse and flower shop begins when the Rizzo family emigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy in 1903. Paul’s grandparents, Guiseppe (Joseph) Rizzo and Grazia (Grace) Marasco, were the first Rizzos. set foot on American soil. They then married between 1905 and 1906, according to Paul, and resided in North Bend, Pennsylvania. They had nine children together, Michael, Anthony (Tony), Paul (Paully), Mary, Rose, Joseph Jr., Frances, John (Paul’s father) and Dorothy.
Guiseppe worked at the paper mill in Lock Haven and Grazia was a “homebody” so many women were at that time, says Paul. Eventually, in 1932, the two decided to build a small greenhouse where they grew vegetables and mushrooms.
“My grandfather, my grandmother and my uncle (Tony) started growing mushrooms and vegetables. This continued for many years and they increased the items and eventually to the point that they grew holiday items on Easter and Mother’s Day,” said Paul.
However, Paul’s grandparents were unable to farm during the winter months because there was no way to heat the greenhouses. It was impossible to cultivate for a holiday like Christmas.
“One of the main reasons they did this combination – the mushrooms and the vegetables – they could bring in manure and as the manure degrades it creates heat. This would keep the greenhouse warm for the vegetables in- on them and mushrooms would grow in the manure.They were very smart and resourceful people – they did what they had to do to survive. said Paul.
It was during the Great Depression, then during World War II. After serving in the war, John attended the Delaware Valley College of Agriculture in 1945 where he learned more about floriculture and landscaping. His brother, Tony, died in 1949 with Paul’s grandfather a few months later. Paul’s uncle, Paully, his father and mother carried on the family business with the other siblings helping out as much as they could.
In the aftermath, John and Paul’s uncle, Paully, went into business together in the early 1950s, starting with landscaping. Part of the greenhouse was later moved from Clinton Street to Lock Haven after John married Paul’s mother.
In 1952 John married Anne Jannerella, of North Bend. Together they built a small house in Charleton, Pennsylvania along what is now Woodward Avenue. Part of the greenhouse was then moved next to this house where it is operated today. Paul’s mother continued to operate the other part of the old Clinton Street greenhouse for another year. She died in 1972.
“They had a little house here next door, and then they had the greenhouse. Every two years, as they had some money, they added another section,” said Cathy Rizzo.
John and Anne had three sons, John, Paul and Michael. The business grew as they grew and started working for the Rizzo family business.
Paul’s brother, (Young) John, studied at Penn State for biology and botany. In 1972, as the brothers became more active in the business, they built a gift shop which Anne operated and a flower shop next to the greenhouse. The three worked alongside their father, learning the trade first hand.
John also worked for Piper Aircraft until his retirement in the 1980s.
“When he wasn’t at Piper, he was landscaping or doing whatever he could here to make this business work,” Cathy said.
Several years after 1972, the main greenhouse showroom and garden workshop were built. The whole family is involved in the business. The three brothers took courses at the Hixon School of Floral Design and a few courses at Ohio State University – the three later became floral designers there. Today, Paul’s brothers, although away from Rizzo full-time with their own families, help in the greenhouse during the holidays.
Today, Rizzo’s flower shop covers approximately 20,000 square feet of indoor growing and approximately 20,000 square feet of outdoor space where Rizzos display and grow. There are about 12 greenhouses in total.
“The original greenhouse was only about 1,000 square feet. So we expanded a lot. Of course, they just had a little garden to do their business,” said Paul.
Having worked with his parents for years, Paul finally hired his wife, Cathy, in 1994. They eventually married in 1998, Paul said. The two took over Rizzo’s flower shop and started their own families.
“The company has changed a lot and we have bought new products. We have done different things – cut flowers, landscaping and maintenance, church service, year round greenhouse operation, weddings and funerals – we have become multifaceted over the years,” said Paul and Cathy.
Paul and Cathy are now raising the next generation of Rizzos in the business with their children, Joey and Grace. Joey currently works full time alongside his parents.
“We love what we do… When it’s a job you love, how easy it can be to do it when you love it”, they said.
Rizzo’s greenhouse and flower shop are open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It serves Clinton, Lycoming, and Center counties.
For more information on Rizzo’s greenhouse and flower shop, visit their Facebook or call them at (570) 753-3603.