Today — after 34 years at Santa Clara Avenue and Broadway, Pam Earl is closing Olympic Florist — so she can slow down for a while. “But if you want to be busy, just close up shop!” she said with a smile and a bit of nostalgia.
Pam and husband Gary opened Olympic Florist on Santa Clara Avenue (at Broadway) in 1979 in the former location of Brenda’s Flower Basket. They got started in the business when they bought Olympic Florist in the Pill Hill area of Oakland in 1975, a store they closed in the early ‘80s.
Pam, a military kid, lived in Alameda since 1968 and graduated from Alameda High School. Gary, who died of cancer in late 2011, came to the Bay Area from Utah. “He was a florist all his life,” said Pam.
The weak economy of the early-2000s was especially difficult, along with growing competition from grocery stores and discount retailers like Costco. “All flower shops were affected by it,” said the businesswoman. “The whole industry’s changed. I remember when we had nine employees at one point,” she explained. “But that’s when people didn’t just stop by the grocery store to pick up flowers.”
Still, Olympic Florist has had a loyal following of customer over the years. “We did everything for some families, from weddings to anniversaries to funerals. People thought that I was just going keep doing this and be buried here!” joked Pam.
“I’ll really miss the flowers, customers and friends,” she explained. “I won’t disappear, since I still have family in town. I just won’t be selling flowers here anymore.”