Norristown, PA – May 28, 2015 – Today marks the beginning of an exciting merge of two local florists in Norristown; Plaza Flowers on Egypt Road and Anna Catanese Flower Shop on DeKalb Street. Both shops have endured for generations, giving customers high-quality products for decades, but only Anna Catanese Flower Shop enters their hundredth year as the oldest florist in Norristown. Both shops plan to bring their valuable wisdom and loyal clientele together to forge a bond that will propel them forward for generations to come.
In order to understand how a business becomes ingrained so deeply into the heritage of a community, we must first investigate the origin of this proud business and the individuals who began it.
Domenic Catanese immigrated to the U.S. in 1888. Shortly thereafter, he began growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers on his eleven-acre farm on Tremont Street in Norristown. Around 1900, he opened 20th Century Florist and Seed at 321 DeKalb Street to sell his produce and seeds. Flower sales were slow at first but grew quickly, leading to the addition floral design and delivery services around 1910. In 1915, Domenic’s daughter-in-law & floral designer, Anna, purchased the store with a $3500 loan from neighboring businesswomen. She then employed three of her family to help make the Flower Shop a success.
Anna’s husband, William, died of pneumonia that same year, leaving her with a business to run and three young children to raise. At that time the flower shop was only nine feet wide, but 50 feet long. But Anna was very driven to make the business work, and educated herself at the local library about how to run a flower business. Anna earned a reputation as hard-working single mother, who also built a very successful business. She relied on many family members and friends to help her in this endeavor. By the 1930 she had made a success of the business and she purchased the building next door and widened the width of the store to eighteen feet. She now employed 6 members of her family: Her brother, Richard, Sisters Dolly and Rose and three nieces. Anna’s youngest sister, Rose, was very instrumental in running the shop. Rose also suffered the loss of her husband in 1938. For several decades the duo of strong, entrepreneurial women garnered much success in a male-dominated business world.
Many members of the Catanese family worked at the Anna Catanese Flower Shop until 1981, when Thomas Catanese, Sr passed away and Mrs. Mary Louise Catanese sold the business. Most recently the florist was owned and operated by the Haywood family of Northeast Philadelphia. Sun Haywood has been searching for a business opportunity closer to her home and decided to merge operations with Plaza Flowers, a leading local florist owned & operated by the Drummond family since 1983. Chris Drummond, President, is proud to combine the traditions of both florists. “These companies were built by very successful women who knew that hard work and personal attention to every order could overcome discrimination and stereotypes. I know Mom faced a lot of adversity as a female business-owner in the eighties. Imagine how difficult it was for the Catanese sisters decades earlier. We are very proud to carry on the legacy of both families.”
Plaza Flowers plans to serve all Catanese customers from their flagship location on Egypt Road. Daily deliveries, including Sunday, of flowers, plants, balloons, and gift baskets will continue throughout Philadelphia and all suburbs. “We will combine the best of both florists to exceed customer expectations on every occasion,” explained Drummond.
As these two well-seasoned businesses carry on as one, they will continue with the same goal upon which they were founded: To provide superior service and satisfy customers with consistent top quality flowers, plants, related gifts, and services with unsurpassed excellence. Plaza Flowers is very excited to combine the tradition rooted in the Anna Catanese Flower Shop with their own tradition spanning three generations.