Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 9, 2005, pg. 13
Albion has always seemed to appreciate the beauty of flowers which can be found in abundance throughout our community during the outdoor growing season. Albion has had several noted florists in its history which kept our residents supplied with colorful bouquets. This week we’d like to feature one floral business many of our readers might remember: Thomson’s Flowers. By the way, there is no letter “p” in their name.
Our story begins in 1901, when William (1859-1934) and Mary (Dean) Thomson came here from Dansville, where William had operated the Thomson & Son iron foundry that burned. William became employed at the Gale Manufacturing Company, and the family eventually settled at 324 W. Broadwell Avenue. William began growing flowers, and built a greenhouse behind the family home. They found that it was a profitable venture. The family rented a small storefront at 105 W. Porter St. in 1926. Their daughter Helen (1910-1992) became particularly talented in family business. At age 16 she would take pailfuls of flower bunches to the store and sell them “as is.” Cut flowers were sold at the Porter St. location, while bedding plants were sold at the greenhouse on Broadwell Avenue.
Following the death of William in 1934, the Porter St. location was closed and Mrs. Thomson continued the family business out of her home. It was called “Thomson’s Greenhouse.” “The dining room was the sales room, and there was an ice box for which the ice man brought huge blocks of ice every day,” states a family history.
Daughter Helen continued her role in the business, and married Frederick “Fritz” Nass (1908-1985) in 1934. Upon Fritz’s return from World War II, the couple purchased both the house and the business from other family members in 1946. Helen would do floral designing, while Fritz ran the day-to-day business operations. Thomson’s Flowers supplied flowers for events such as weddings, funerals, and banquets. By this time the ice-box had become outmoded, and the couple purchased a refrigerated walk-in flower cooler where flowers were stored.
Albion’s most prosperous period in its history was the post-World War II boom of the 1950s. Helen and Fritz purchased the building at 112 E. Erie St. in 1952, next to the big Methodist Church. Thomson’s Flowers (the new name) had its big grand opening there in 1952.
Helen and Fritz operated the business until their retirement in 1973. At that time they sold the business to their daughter Judy, a long-time employee. She continued it until 1980, when it was sold to out-of-towners Daniel and Dorothy Wright. They operated the business for two more years, until it was closed in 1982.
From our this week we present a 1952 Grand Opening photograph of the Thomson’s Flowers storefront on E. Erie St. How many of our readers purchased flowers from this business? Ah, notice the two parking meters in front, a reminder of the days when downtown parking had to be regulated in order to accommodate the steady flow of customers in our bustling city. Special thanks to Kathy (Nass) Remus and Judy (Nass) Gonzalez for supplying information for this week’s article.
Thomson's Flowers storefront in 1952
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic