What to Know
- After 65 years, the flower shop in the 1st Avenue L train station will close.
- The stand is a LES gem, and its owner himself is a bit of a New York figure, with his own feature on the popular Instagram @newyorknico.
- On Friday, the owner is going into retirement, after 48 years of running the stand.
After running a flower shop in a New York City subway station for almost half a century, 72-year-old Peter Tsoumas is set to sell his last bouquet.
The flower shop nestled in the First Avenue and 14th Street L train station, itself 65 years old, will officially close Friday. “The last day I leave from here, I know I’ll cry," he told NBC 4 ahead of closing.
His flower stand is a refreshing burst of color rooted in the corner of the ever-buzzing subway stop. Many familiar with the neighborhood who pass through the L train subway station on their commutes know it well. It was started by Tsoumas' grandfather in 1954.
Already beloved by those in the neighborhood, Peter, with his warm smile and affable nature, gained even more of a following when featured on the popular Instagram account, @newyorknico. The account, run by Nicolas Heller, has 178,000 followers. Heller first posted about Tsoumas back in April, reporting on how the L train closures were affecting his business.
Though construction on the L train was a challenge to the business, the reason the shop is closing down is ultimately Tsoumas’ health, he said. The septuagenarian has a bad arm and feels he is too old to keep working.
Heller also posted to his Instagram account about Tsoumas closing his shop. Hundreds posted reactions to the news.
“Grew up seeing this man working hard #Goodluck," one said.
“Peter is the absolute best and is def a solid part of NYC history," said another.
After almost 50 years at the flower stand, Tsoumas has seen a changing New York. He said he has noticed people have stopped buying flowers so much. He also said he believes New Yorkers’ attitudes have changed.
While Tsoumas' favorite part of the job was once talking to people, as the years have passed he said these daily conversations happen less and less. “Fifteen, 20 years ago, every day is a beautiful day… Today -- forget about it. Nobody say today 'good morning' to you or 'goodnight.' Or to say 'happy holiday,'” he said.
The closing of the flower stand also signals a wider trend in the New York City subway system, Tsoumas said. Where once you used to see a florist in every station, now they're a rarity. "The time I start, every station had a florist," he said. "No more now."
But Tsoumas said he will now have more time to spend with his family, which he is thankful for. “I miss so many things… but after Monday, nothing. And after September I take my grandkids to go to school… I’m working for fifty years to take my grandkids to go to school."