Beloved Berkeley flower shop closes after 85 years

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A beloved family-run flower shop in Berkeley is shutting its door after 85 years in business.

The owners of Darling Flower Shop plan to be out by the end of the week.

Jay Touriel and his wife Barbara arranged some final bouquets and cleaned out the shop on Tuesday.

Jay said they're simply burned out and it's time to retire. Jay has been coming to Darling's since he was a baby. "I was born and raised right here on University Avenue," he said

His grandfather started the business in 1932, selling flowers from the front lawn of his Victorian house on University Avenue.

The business grew, the Victorian was demolished and transformed into apartments and a modern shop. "I consider myself the old man on the block and I'm just going to have to pass the key off to someone else now," he said.

Customers and neighbors are surprised to see it go. "I am so sad. The people that work here are fantastic. The prices are great, they're helpful, they're patient," customer James Andrea said.

"A community that is losing institutions at the rate that we are is very serious. It changes the culture and the fabric of the community," longtime customer Paul Kealoha Blake said.

Celebrities, athletes, and activists have all come through the doors to purchase flowers.

"I just love our customers because everybody has a story, whether they come in for a birthday, a funeral, an anniversary, or a new baby, they all have a story," Jay said.

Jay and his wife are still working out how to spend retirement, but one thing is for sure, they will finally have time to stop and smell the roses.
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