Flowers by Routledge:  a century of local floral service

Photo: Sault Museum

Last Saturday was a special one at Flowers by Routledge. 

The store celebrated its 100th birthday and officially held a grand opening at its new location at 129 Second Line West.

“We had the cake and a bottle of champagne, coffee and tea,” says Pam Pezzotti, who co-owns the store with husband, Lucio. “We had lots of guests come in and congratulate us. A come-and-go. It was nice.”

The Pezzotti’s are thrilled to own the store, and its long and rich history isn’t lost on them. They feel a special pride and sense of responsibility owning the latest iteration of the flower shop launched by Tom Routledge back in 1924 at 252 Spruce Street.

“I think it’s a wonderful accomplishment for any business, really,” says Pam. “The store’s history in the city is wonderful.”

“For a local business to have that kind of longevity in a small city, is pretty good,” says Lucio. “That just speaks to the quality of the product they delivered all those years.”

Pam muses at a receipt in her files from 1952. The invoice for an order of flowers totalled $61 – for a wedding. 

“That would be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, today,” she says.

Pam worked at Routledge for 11 years before she and her husband took ownership in 2012. Working with flowers, be it in the couple’s garden or in her shop, is a labor of love, she says.

Until February of this year, Flowers by Routledge was located in the Market Mall, a couple of stone throws further west down Second Line. The mall is becoming a plaza and Pam says their designated location in the new plan was less than ideal. 

“I knew the business and I wanted to carry it on,” says Pam. I enjoyed it. I never felt like it was work. I enjoy it so much. We love gardening…our whole backyard is a garden. Once we took over the business it took front and centre. We still work in the garden but not as much as before.”

“It was a release for her artistic side,” says Lucio of Pam, who he says is the force behind the business. He laughingly adds “I’m just the free hired help!”

The store’s new location was formerly a dentist’s office. Pam says the layout had eight or nine examining rooms, which made extensive renovations a must.

“When we first looked at it, we were like, ‘Can we do this?’,” she says. “Lucio and his brother did a lot of the demos. My brother and our nephews helped. Within a month, everything was demolished and rebuilt and we moved in by Feb. 1.

It was a hectic month,” Pam continued. “And then we had Valentine’s day on the 14th so we had two weeks to get ourselves all straightened out and get the front set up. We had that all ready by the 14th and were all set for Valentine’s Day. We’ve been going crazy ever since.”

Pam says one change of note from previous years is an increased focus on weddings.

“We didn’t do too many weddings before,” Pam says. “But last year we did 32. This year we’re booked for 22 and already we have nine or 10 booked into next year.”

Flowers by Routledge carries more than just flowers. There’s gift ware for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, babies, a whole line of plants and decorations for the outdoors and the cottage.

Her customers are loyal and Pam says it’s a buzz serving customers over many years.

“It’s like you’re going through life’s milestone’s with them,” she says. “One year it’s a wedding, and the next year, it’s a baby! Knowing that someone is happy with what you’ve created, that’s the best thing,” she adds.

With the move and the renovations behind them, Pam says she has no major changes planned. It has taken some time, and a good deal of work, but she’s satisfied with the store on so many fronts.

“I’m in a happy place right now,” says Pam. “We’re busy enough where  we can handle it, we’re comfortable and we’re happy. I love the new location and I love the windows. Being in the mall, we never saw the outside. With windows and the sunshine it’s a lot brighter, and it’s a bigger place. I was able to decide where I wanted things and how I wanted it done, which was nice, too. Everything is in its proper place and everybody has their own space. We’re not running on top of each other. It’s all come together really nicely.”

There’s no way to know what Tom Routledge would think of his floral creation, and its evolution, 100 years later. But in talking to Pam and Lucio, seeing and hearing their enthusiasm and their respect for what came before, one can at least imagine Routledge giving the couple a smile and two thumbs up. 

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