Quitsch Florist owner Dixie Paugh was just a little girl when she first started helping her parents around the shop, sweeping floors and making corsage boxes. Her fondest memories go back to holidays past, when her entire family gathered to work through the years’ busiest seasons.
It goes without saying that Paugh’s decision to close the family business was not an easy one. The family-owned business will close on Aug. 2.
For more than 80 years, the flower shop has served Forest Park and has, in many ways, evolved with it. Originally named Dick and Dell’s Florist, Quitsch Florist opened in the early 1920s on the corner of Harlem and Roosevelt roads, and remained there until about 10 years ago, when it relocated to Forest Park’s now bustling Madison Street. Having worked at the shop for decades alongside her parents, sibling, cousins and in-laws, Paugh said she decided it was finally time to retire.
“I want to do other things,” Paugh said. “I want to spend time with my grandchildren and go on trips.”
It has been an emotional decision for Paugh, but she plans to maintain the friendships she’s made with customers over the years. Just recently, one of Paugh’s regulars heard of the shop’s closing and brought her a card.
“I’ll miss all the customers who’ve really become friends,” Paugh said.
For Paugh’s cousin, Nedra Wentland, working at Quitsch Florist has been a privilege, she said.
“I’m very glad for Dixie,” Wentland said. “She deserves time to do whatever she wants without being tied down.”
Wentland has been working with Paugh for 10 years. At first she knew nothing of floral arrangements, but Paugh taught her everything.
“I’m sad for myself because I won’t be able to see Dixie everyday,” Wentland said. “I’ll miss everything. I’ll miss all the people I’ve gotten to know, the customers. I’ll even miss stripping roses.”
Maureen Harnett, of Zimmerman-Harnett Funeral Home, also on Madison Street, has been collaborating with Paugh since 2005. Like Wentland, Harnett said she will be sad to see the store go.
“[Dixie] has a great heart. She put a lot of work into her flowers,” Harnett said. “She’s going to be missed in Forest Park. I wish her well.”
Moss Modern Flowers, located just down the street from Quitsch Florist, has purchased the building at 7405 Madison St. Owner Chris Geoghegan has not yet decided on a move-in date, but said she plans to relocate toward the latter part of the summer.
“The wonderful thing about this is that one flower shop is taking over for another,” Geoghegan said. “I’m really excited about the move. It’s nice and fitting, to have a building consistently be a flower shop.”