Brattle Square Florist thrives after move nearby, but still finds it’s cultivating new customer base
Brattle Square Florist, which has sold plants and flowers in Cambridge since 1915, reports steady business since it relocated within Harvard Square in June. Though owner Stephen Zedros said he is still trying to gauge foot traffic in the new home, sales have not dipped despite the business’s biggest shift in more than 100 years.
The shop was founded by Zedros’ grandparents. Zedros, who has worked there for 50 years, attributes its long success to a breadth of product: more than 200 varieties of flowers, including quirky and rare items such as the jungle plants known as birds of paradise, and protea flowers – king proteas that resemble artichoke hearts or the pincushion version that has tiny flowers rising on stalks from a flower-head. Between 20 and 50 boxes of goods arrive daily from around Massachusetts and as far as Canada; a weekly shipment of orchids comes in weekly from Thailand.
Apart from mixed bouquets and vase arrangements sold in store and on the street, the florist specializes in large events such as birthdays, holidays and proms (and funerals). The pandemic brought Brattle Square Florist’s business to a standstill for months, Zedros said, but demand finally returned to normal this summer after a surge of makeup weddings, parties and graduations. May was incredibly busy, he said.
May also marked a big switch, bringing a move to 52 Brattle St. after the store’s lease expired at 31 Brattle St. Zedros said he had been more than pleased with the shop’s previous location; the proximity to Harvard University served Brattle Square Florist well, and the business had a good relationship with the landlord, who allowed the store to stay two months beyond its lease to deal with the logistics of the move.
Brattle Square Florist moved during Harvard’s reunion weekend, a busy time for the store, yet did not miss a day of operation. The move started at 3 p.m. May 31 and was complete eight hours later, ready to go for the next morning. Day one, the shop was brought back to life and looked like the old location, Zedros said, though square footage dropped to around 1,300 from 1,700. “Exactly what we have here at the new location actually fit from the old location,” Zedros said.
The store did not move far – just 500 feet down the road to a storefront that recently hosted a Tess women’s clothing shop (which moved to 41 Brattle St., also within Harvard Square). But even this small shift has changed the demographic of customers: Farther from the heart of the square, foot traffic from students has decreased, but the florist is now closer to the homes of longer-term residents, Zedros said. More than half of its customers are returning to buy at the new location, he said – and some roots run so deep that there are around 40 house accounts that go back decades, even as much as 100 years old.
Between the pandemic and the move, the shop could not have survived without those loyal customers, Zedros said. Now the store has the same amount of product, does the same volume of deliveries and gets consistent traction online.
New neighbors such as L.A. Burdick Chocolates and the Italian restaurant Toscano now help introduce customers to Brattle Square Florist, and the flower shop returns the favor, Zedros said.
“We’re lucky to be here, that’s for sure,” Zedros said.
This article was written in partnership with Cambridge Local First.