After more than a century in Harvard Square, Brattle Square Florist will close its iconic storefront at the end of the month.
Owner Randy Ricker cited rising prices, understaffing, and the continuing pandemic as reasons for the shop’s closing in a press release.
“The prospect of continuing operations during an ongoing and unpredictable pandemic is daunting,” Ricker wrote.
The shop will shutter its doors on Jan. 31.
“I do not believe that we can meet the demands of Valentine’s Day in February, traditionally our busiest time,” Ricker wrote. “In light of that, I have decided to wind down operations in January.”
Ricker also wrote that operating the business takes an “enormous amount of emotional and physical energy” — especially during the pandemic.
“I have not had Thanksgiving dinner with my family in 9 years. I’ve had one Sunday off in 20 months. I have frequently worked 30-40 day stretches without a break,” he wrote. “Simply put, I can’t sustain this effort.”
Ricker purchased Brattle Square Florist in 2013, though the business traces its origins to 1917, when brothers George, Stavros, and John Gomatos — immigrants from Greece — opened a shop named Gomatos Brothers Fresh Produce. The business became Brattle Square Florist in 1973.
Ricker wrote in the press release that he is unsure if Brattle Square Florist may one day resurrect.
“While it’s possible that Brattle Square Florist Inc will be reconstituted, there are no plans for that at present,” he wrote.
Theodora M. “Theo” Skeadas ’12, executive director of small business advocacy group Cambridge Local First, called the shop’s closing “heartbreaking.”
“The store was very magical — really a beautiful space at the heart of Harvard Square,” she said.
Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, lamented the closing of Brattle Square Florist, but said the shop leaves behind an important legacy.
“It’s very difficult to see them leave but given that they’ve been in business for 104 years, it’s a remarkable legacy and one that should be celebrated,” Jillson said.
“We’ll be working closely with Randy Ricker and creating some wonderful celebration the last week of January, if everything goes as planned,” Jillson said.
Brattle Square Florist’s closing is part of a larger pattern of small businesses leaving the Square. With the shuttering of the shop, at least six of the 11 local businesses that were once located in the Brattle St. buildings — purchased by real estate investment firm Asana Partners in 2017 — will have closed.
Skeadas said she is concerned that the abundance of vacant storefronts in the Square will hurt nearby businesses.
“When one business falls, it is not just that one business that falls,” Skeadas said. “It adversely affects an entire ecosystem of businesses that it is entrenched in and connected to.”
As for the future of the Square, Jillson said it will “do what it’s always done, which is change.”
—Staff writer Katherine M. Burstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kmburstein1.
—Staff writer Sage Lattman can be reached at email@example.com.