Owner explains Luepke closure plans for downtown Vancouver building

first_imgDowntown Vancouver mainstay Luepke Flowers and Finds closed its doors Thursday after 110 years in operation. An initial set of notices posted in the store’s window earlier this week did not offer a reason for the closure, but the store’s owner, Bruno Amicci, spoke to The Columbian on Thursday to shed some light on the circumstances that led to the decision and his plans for the future of the store’s building, which he also owns.The biggest factor was competition, he said. The widespread availability of flowers online and in grocery stores made it increasingly difficult for the florist shop to sustain the level of customer traffic it once enjoyed. Too many shoppers were opting for the convenience of ordering online or visiting the floral department at their supermarket, he said, and those sellers also were able to undercut Luepke Flowers on pricing.“It was a very sad decision,” Amicci said.The competition problem has dogged Luepke in recent years. The store — originally known as Luepke Florist — was founded in 1909 by Frank and Edla Luepke and passed through three generations of family ownership before being purchased in 2004 by its longtime manager Maria Adler and her husband. The Adlers announced in late 2014 that they planned to retire and close the store, and their explanation was similar to Amicci’s — increased competition had eaten up the store’s revenue.Amicci purchased the Luepke building in early 2014, and when he learned about the Adlers’ decision, he stepped in to buy the florist shop and keep it operating. He also embarked on a project to revitalize the Luepke building, turning it into a retail and food destination called Luepke Station. The renovations were completed in 2015, and a brewpub called Tap Union Freehouse opened in the western half of the building in 2016.The florist shop was renamed Luepke Flowers and Finds. It had a strong first year, Amicci said, but ultimately it couldn’t escape the competitive pressure from other flower retailers.last_img