How One of the Oldest NYC Flower Shops Preps for Valentine's Day

Photo: Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip
Photo: Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip
Photo of Amanda Suarez
28 February 2017

Few places function as seamlessly as a microcosm of life like a flower shop does. From wedding arrangements to funeral wreaths and everything in between, flowers and the shops that provide them enter lives briefly but do so with the essence of sentimentality.

Gramercy Park Flower Shop has been a New York City staple since 1904, when Spiros and Peter Sakas — two immigrant brothers from Greece— turned a flower cart in Union Square into a storefront shop at 21st Street and 3rd Avenue.

Photos of the original shop at Gramercy Park | Courtesy of Tom Sakas

Now, many iterations and petals later, the shop lives at the Plaza Hotel and in a design studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tom Sakas took over the shop in 1985 and has kept his grandfather’s and father’s legacies flourishing since.

Tom (first person on the right, second row) with his brother William pose for a shop photo. | © Courtesy of Tom Sakas

“Our mission statement of the business is to treat all customers equal, whether they are spending five dollars or fifty thousand dollars.” explains Sakas. “We are full service and can handle anything from a very small party to massive events.”

A sample of work from Gramercy Park Flower Shop. An arrangement for Todd English at the Plaza and (right) a personal favorite of Tom’s. | Courtesy of Tom Sakas

Followed only by Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the biggest flower holiday for the shop. Preparation begins a month before and involves tens of thousands of flowers. The staff of Gramercy Park Flower Shop more than doubles between the two locations.

“With the volume we are doing [for Valentine’s Day], we work very hard to ensure the quality of the flowers and the quality of the production.” describes Sakas. “We try to keep the production line as simple and as organized as possible so the end result is the customer getting what they want.”

Take a look inside Gramercy Flower’s design studio on the day before Valentine’s Day.

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