The story of Reed’s Flowers is as much about its founder, Albert Harry Reed, as it is about the shop. Reed emigrated from London, England, in 1908 at the behest of his brother, Tom Reed. The two Reed brothers worked side by side in Waco as growers for Wolfe’s Florists, and later for Harrick’s Hardware, until the onset of World War I. Although Albert had not attended school past fifth grade, he passed a communications test and entered into radio school. After graduating from Harvard’s Radio Material School, he served in the US Navy.
Although he could have easily found a job working as a radio operator following the conclusion of the war, Reed recognized that his true love was growing plants. He and his wife Blanche opened up a small flower shop on Speight Avenue, but lost everything when the market crashed in 1929. Yet Reed was not ready to give up his dream of running his own flower shop, and he decided to borrow fifty dollars from his mother-in-law to build a small greenhouse on the Old Dallas Highway.
In 1930, Reed opened a second shop at 1025 Austin Avenue with the help from some friends in the Waco Founder Lions Club. The loan of a refrigerator and a rent-free building to house the shop enabled him to get the store up and running, despite the difficult economy of the Depression. Though the Reeds could not always afford to ship in cut flowers, they ensured Reed’s Flowers was always stocked with roses and marigolds they grew in their greenhouses.
During these early years, customers cited the “finest service” and “quality merchandise” as reasons why the business continued to grow even during the Depression. The owners worked tirelessly to support the flower shop. Albert produced the potted plants and cut flowers in the greenhouses while his wife Blanche managed the business operations in the store on Austin Avenue.
Business took off in the years following the Depression. Wolfe’s Flowers, just down the street, proved to be the shop’s largest competitor, until it moved out to South Twelfth Street following World War II. Around a decade later, Reed Flowers Inc. moved down the street to a new shop located at 1029 Austin Avenue in the late 1950s.
Albert continued to operate the flower shop with no intention of retirement, sharing his love of flowers and plants with his son Harry. In 1980, the father and son attended the International Florists Convention in London. Blanche and Albert passed away in 1990, leaving the shop to Harry.
Although Harry sold the greenhouses in 2000, he continues to carry out his father’s legacy through the operation of the flower shop on Austin Avenue. Today, Reed’s Flowers serves as a testament to the importance of local family businesses throughout Waco’s history.