Westminster flower shop prepares for final day

Edna and Stewart Dutterer are shown in their greenhouse in the 1950s.
Edna and Stewart Dutterer are shown in their greenhouse in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Dutterer's Flower Shop , Carroll County Times)

The second-to-last day at Stewart N. Dutterer Flower Shop Inc. in Westminster was an emotional one, but it wasn't a slow one.

Owners Lori Graham and Jalna Brown were busy fielding phone calls, organizing supplies and cleaning the 114 Pennsylvania Ave. shop.

Anthony Locascio prepared to deliver one of the eight baskets scheduled to go out Monday.

Wedding consultant Mary Burkholder put the finishing touches on one of her last flower arrangements set to go out today.

Though the doors of the 93-year-old flower shop will be locked for the last time today at 5:30 p.m., the memories and family spirit of the shop will remain.

The decision to close the business was very difficult, but the state of the economy and changes in the retail floral market ultimately led to the closure, Graham said. The family-owned building is currently up for sale, she said.

"This decision was like having an ill family member and deciding to take them off life support," Graham said. "It's like losing a person."

Stewart Nevin Dutterer and his wife, Edna, started the business in 1919 at 110 Pennsylvania Ave. Throughout the years, the employees at Dutterer's have kept busy creating arrangements and decorating for many occasions, including weddings, funerals, birthdays, proms, parades and company parties.

In 1989, Dutterer's decorated for George H.W. Bush's inauguration and then it also was tapped for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. The shop had clients in Carroll, Baltimore, Hanover, Pa., and other surrounding areas.

Over the weekend, employees, friends and family helped remove the Baltimore Ravens display in the front window and replaced it with hundreds of colorful flowers, Graham said. Many customers stopped in to chat with employees and some bought flowers, Graham said.

Inside, pictures and plaques highlighting the shop's accomplishments adorned the walls. A few brown boxes filled with seasonal decorations sat on the floor in various spots of the store and the refrigerators that are usually filled with flowers were vacant. Graham's Great Dane, Ginger, followed her into the cooler as she picked out a few flowers to make a bouquet for a customer.

Employees and customers said the shop will always have a special place in their hearts.

Eileen Dutterer Gist, Graham and Brown's mother, has worked at the shop all her life. When she was born, it was the first place she was brought to after leaving the hospital.

"We're going to miss all our customers and all our friends, and thanks for all the wonderful memories through all the years we've been able to serve the beauty of flowers all over Carroll County," Gist said.

Today, the shop is going to document its final arrangement by attaching a special note informing their final customer, Gist said.

Brown, who has been working at the shop for more than 50 years, helped customers who came in Monday afternoon. Some purchased Christmas decorations that were on sale.

Brown enjoyed her occupation because it allowed her to display her creativity through flower arrangements. Closing the shop after nine decades was heartbreaking for the long-time employee. It's the only thing she knows, Brown said.

"It's one of the hardest things in my life that I've ever had to do," said Brown. "It's the best family-owned business I've ever worked for."

Union Bridge resident Liz Crawmer, a Dutterer's customer for 41 years, said it's very hard to say goodbye.

"They were a very special business, they were family owned and you could always count on them," Crawmer said. "They made an awful lot of people happy."

Burkholder, who's worked at Dutterer's for more than 40 years, added miniature carnations and spray roses to a basket full of daisies Monday afternoon. It was one of her last orders before the shop closes.

As a child, Burkholder said she would always cut flowers in the yard, place them in a vase and put them on display in her house. As an adult, it became her life, and she's created heart-shaped bouquets for Valentine's Day, among other things.

"I never thought I'd become a designer," Burkholder said.

Locascio, the delivery driver, has worked at the shop for 10 years, and he said he's upset that the store has to close.

"It's a nice place to work with nice people," he said. "It's kind of hard."

The small shop has allowed employees to connect with the community on a personal level, Graham said. When customers were experiencing their happiest moments, the shop was there. It was also there when customers were going through their saddest times, she said.

"We have customers that we see every week, they might call, and we recognize them by voice," Graham said. "They're more than customers, they're extended family."