A stroll through Keswick Village in Glenside, PA is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. To this day, that part of suburban Philadelphia retains the warm and comfortable essence of small town America. Overlooking the roundabout at the intersection of Wharton Road and Keswick Avenue, stands Penny’s Flowers, which looks much like it did seventy years ago. Named after the founder, Vince “Penny” Pannepacker, this popular florist has always been family-owned. Now that the second generation is retiring, the decision was made to join Plaza Flowers, headquartered in Norristown with Glenside roots. “Granddad started with a small greenhouse on Easton Road and enjoyed his friendship with Penny. The Pannepackers are like extended family and the opportunity to continue Penny’s legacy is a dream come true,” explained Chris Drummond of Plaza Flowers.
Customers have described this as the “perfect match.” The Pannepackers and Drummonds have been friendly competitors for decades and have often remarked about the amazing degree of similarity among their stores, from the freshness of the flowers to the design style to the express delivery service. The natural succession plan for the retiring Pannepackers was to ask the Drummonds to purchase the Glenside landmark and continue the eighty year tradition of Penny’s Flowers. The entire team at Penny’s will remain in place, so shoppers will continue relationships with the current designers and delivery personnel. The increased purchasing power of the combined companies will bring even fresher farm-direct flowers at amazing prices. The larger delivery fleet means faster deliveries and a wider range. The tradition of top quality and value continues.
Vincent Pannepacker, known to everyone as “Penny,” began working at Turner’s Hardware on Keswick Avenue after the Great Depression. Since there was no florist nearby, he convinced Mr. Turner to sell potted flowers on the sidewalk. Penny was charged with purchasing, watering and merchandising the flowers and plants. In 1937, a small storefront near the Keswick Theater became vacant and Penny convinced his wife, Emily, to start their own florist there. Penny’s flowers was born. Nine years later, Penny and Emily purchased the vacant lot at the corner of Wharton and Keswick and built a state-of-the art flower shop and greenhouse. The spectacular 1947 “Hollywood Grand Opening” hosted thousands of guests and showcased a wide variety of flowers lavishly designed in the latest styles.
Branch locations opened in Oreland and Elkins Park as Penny’s Flowers grew to be one of the largest florists in the region. A major expansion of the flagship store in 1960 included a new design studio, call center, two-story refrigeration and the floral industry’s first drive-in pick-up window. In the sixties and seventies, Vince, Bob and Rick joined their parents as full time florists. Their sister, Joanne, and wives Cele, Dottie and Mary a
lso joined the team and the Penny’s reputation soared as customers enjoyed being treated like family. Penny’s Flowers has been repeatedly recognized nationally as a top florist, by Teleflora, FTD, AFS and others. Recipients of countless awards, the Pannepackers have also held numerous leadership positions at the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Allied Florists and the Society of American Florists.
Rick Pannepacker, who is retiring after 60 years as a florist, spoke about the multiple generations of loyal customers. “This town is Mayberry. Everyone knows each other and they are loyal if you treat them well. Three months ago, an Abington High School student shopped and explained that Penny’s provided prom flowers for her grandmother and mother. There was no doubt where she would come for her junior prom. Of course, she will be back in April for her senior prom and we’ll design the flowers for her wedding in a few years.”
Dottie Drummond began Plaza Flowers in the King of Prussia Plaza in 1983. The design studio opened on Egypt Road in 1985 and has recently been expanded to over 10,000 square feet. Dottie’s son and daughter, Chris and Heather, now run the business. Since 2005, the following florists have joined the Plaza Flowers family of companies:
- Lorraine’s Florist, Limerick
- Barbara’s Florist, Philadelphia
- Anna Catanese Flowers, Norristown
- Adelberger Florist, Wayne
- Donnolo’s Florist Gourmet & Winery, Downingtown
The history of these companies dates back to 1888. Preserving that heritage is important to the Drummond family. When it’s time for the founding families to move on, the owners introduce their customers to the florists at Plaza Flowers who operate with the same family values. Heather Drummond, Vice President, shared the sense of responsibility to carry on the legacy. “We are not simply buying a business. We are entrusted with a reputation that has been built over generations. We take that commitment to excellence very seriously.”