Third generation florist is still serving the Delaware Valley

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (WPVI) -- At Polites Flowers in Upper Darby, the Mother's Day rush means ten times the usual business.

But this is not their first Mother's Day, not even close. The business turns 110 this year. Owner Chris Polites says, "Everyone has a typical immigrant story."

For the Polites family, that story starts with Frank Polites, Chris Polites' grandfather, who emigrated from Greece in 1888 at the age of 13.

He came through Ellis Island, went to Chicago, before finding his way to Philadelphia and opening his first store at 1418 Chestnut, across from Wanamakers.

Polites explains, "Actually Mr. Wanamaker back then was one his customers and used to come into the store every day to buy a white carnation boutonniere. That's how he would go to work."

The strain of the Great Depression moved the business to 69th Street Terminal. His father and uncle took over. The store remained open even in wartime. According to Polites, "While they went to war - in World War II, they went to the war. His two sisters, Sophia and Marika, they ran the shop."

Today there are two locations, including this one on Garrett Road. Chris took over in the 70's but started working at the age of 12 as a runner.

"I sat in the passenger seat. The driver would pull up for a delivery at a Center City High Rise or whatever. I'd get out of the truck and run up the steps," he said.

Over the years, the business has changed, but their customers have remained loyal. Wife Kathy Polites tells us, "They say you did my prom flowers, my wedding flowers, and now you're doing my parent's funeral."

Kathy helps when things get busy. Their four children have pursued different careers. As for Chris' mother, who used to work at the shop, she turned 103 this year. There are no plans to close.

"As long as I'm healthy, I'm still here," added Polites.
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