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THE HISTORY OF GAINAN’S FLOWERS AND GARDEN CENTER

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Apr 14, 2001

 

Published on Saturday, April 14, 2001.
Last modified on 4/14/2001 at 10:38 pm

The history of Gainan’s Flowers and Garden Center

Grant Gainan started Gainan’s Flowers and Garden Center in 1951 after coming home one day and telling his wife, Betty, that he was quitting his job as a firefighter. The first store was at 201 N. 30th St.

In 1953, the business moved up the street to 501 N. 30th St.

Grant and Betty rented out their home at 635 Clark Ave. and moved into the store because they couldn’t afford both the home and business mortgages. They lived with their three children, Chuck, Kathy and Mick, in two rooms.

Betty drove the delivery truck, often with kids riding along.

“In our family, Labor Day just meant a couple extra days to work,” said Chuck, who is chief executive officer at the downtown store. “In 1989, when Mick and I were teenagers, we retiled 5,000 square feet in the store – the entire store. We couldn’t stand up for a week.”

Mike remembered his father as a visionary. He said his father pointed out a window in the first store at old homes and rental houses across North 30th Street and told his wife, “Someday, you’ll see a one-way street heading south and a flower shop with your name on it.”

Some employees became like extended family.

Diane Myers started working for the store at age 18 and became a favorite of the Gainan children, who used to watch her design flower arrangements.

“The girls were pretty shy, but the two boys would sit on the edge of my bench,” Myers said.

“We had a crush on her,” Jim said about him and his cousin, Todd. “We worked against the productivity of the designers.”

Twenty-three years later, Diane still is arranging flowers for Gainan’s.

The third generation also remembers life revolving around the family business.

“Growing up in a family business, you get to see how hard everyone works,” said Kari Gainan Dahlberg, who handles buying for the three stores.

The current store opened in 1988 on the site that Grant picked and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next Saturday.


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