Shop Local: Butz Flowers to Open Second Store Dec. 1

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Mark Kauffman is maintaining – and building on – a New Castle, Pa., retail tradition that spans more than a century and a half.

Butz Flowers, 120 E. Washington St., was established in 1851, making it the second-oldest flower shop in America, according to Kauffman.

Kauffman, who owns the shop with his brother, Kenny, started as a florist at age 16, working part-time while in high school.

Mark started working at Butz in 1984 and bought into the shop as a partner three years later.

“The industry has changed dramatically,” he says.

Among those sweeping changes is the number of shops. Back in the 1990s, there were 46,000 flower shops in America. Today that number is just over a third of that figure, 16,000. In New Castle alone, the number has dropped from nine in the 1980s to two, he says.

“Most flower shops could not transition properly with all the changes, [such as competition from grocery stores and Amazon],” he says. “Those who were able to transition and reconfigure the landscape of their store and change with the times have survived and done well.”

Rather than contracting, Butz Flowers is preparing to expand. On Dec. 1, the shop will celebrate the opening of a second retail store at 2801 Wilmington Road; it will offer flowers, gifts and home décor items.

And Butz Flowers has benefited in part from the internet. Customers who ordered flowers online have come back to the shop because those flowers didn’t last as long or didn’t come arranged.

“Our customers tell us our flowers last longer,” he says. “And we can tailor-make a bouquet for them, which you’re not going to get online.”

One area where Butz Flowers has had to adapt is the funeral segment, which represents about 30% of its business, Kauffman says.

Over the past 20 years, customers began ordering items that last longer than floral arrangements such as chimes, afghans, memorial lanterns and other merchandise that Butz now carries. “That has worked well for us,” he says

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