Our Story Starts With Ed
Ed Smith was in his forties when owned
Distributing Co., which sold
appliances from TVs to dishwashers. He had been in business all
his life from selling magazines door to door to district manager
of Avco Finance Co. He was married and had two of the six
children at this time.
would frequently buy his wife flowers from a florist called
Dayton Floral products on west Riverview Avenue in Dayton, Ohio.
This florist was a regional distributor and grower of fresh
flowers for the tri-state area. The owner, Rolf Zetlitz, was up
in his years and had previously fallen off one of the green
houses and broken his hip. After many visits they became close
In 1954, Miami Valley Distribution had
caught fire and burned beyond the replacement value of either
the business or the building. Ed Smith was without a job and
wasn't real sure what to do with his age being approx. 45 and
having a third child on the way. He went on several job
interviews and talked to a lot of his business contacts but
wasn't sure he would be happy working for someone else, since he
had his own business.
Nevertheless, Ed would still frequent the
florist on West Riverview Avenue and talk to his friend Rolf. Ed
didn't know anything about the flowers business but he knew
business. He couldn't tell a rose from a carnation. Ed knew he
couldn't run Dayton Floral Products as it was setup because Rolf
did a lot of the growing and harvesting himself. See, Rolf
Zetlitz was a single man who never had been married and didn't
have any kids, so his life and happiness was spent at the floral
supply. Ed had joked with Rolf about buying the business several
times, but one day Rolf took him serious. Ed and Rolf discussed
the purchase in a more serious manner, and the deal was done.
Smith didn't want the name, so he changed it to "Ed Smith
Flowers and Gifts, Inc." and hired managers and floral designers
to help him run the business and by the mid sixties his business
had grown to three stores. The main store on West Riverview,
Salem Avenue by the Salem Mall and Woodman Drive by the Air
Ed closed the Salem Ave. store in the late
sixties because of sales and personnel problems. The Riverview
and Woodman stores were left and they were doing fine. Ed had
six kids at this time and was slowly working some of them into
the business. He was in his upper fifties and was planning his
In the late sixties, Ed Smith had promoted
his floral shop in many ways. He would come up with ideas such
as, sending plants to the schools for science projects or giving
flowers away. Ed had an idea that would help promote both the
Girl Scouts and the floral shop. His idea was to have the
Brownies, Bluebirds and Girl Scouts pass out to the people
downtown 2,000 assorted color roses. He went to Mayor James
McGee and got permission from the city and then let the people
in the media know about it. All the Girl Scout troops met at
City Hall. Each girl was handed a fireside basket with mixed
roses. At that time, they were instructed to go to each office
building in the downtown area and hand any person they saw a
rose. Ed had radio and TV. coverage. Steve Kirk of W.I.N.G.
Radio was helping pass out the roses. Everyone wanted to be a
part of this. This total involvement from so many people made
this a success for everybody.
|Ed Smith and Dayton Mayor James McGee
||Dayton Mayor James McGee
Ed was now in his sixties, and he knew he
was not getting any younger. He had decided some time earlier to
bring the family down to help out at the shop. Each one at some
time or another had worked in either the greenhouses or the
floral shop or both. Two of his sons seemed to stay the longest
and have a true interest in the business. In the late seventies,
Ed decided to retire and pass the torch on to his two sons.
On February 4, 1981, Ed Smith passed away.
However, Ed Smith Flowers and Gifts, Inc. is still family owned
and operated. The floral shop has stayed in business and
continues with his name and philosophies to this day.