West Oak Lane: Flowers Bring Family Closer

It all started in Virginia.

The 15-year-old Paul Beale would rush to the flower shop after school and on weekends to be able to work with flowers.

“I’ve always wanted to work with flowers,” Beale said. “It makes me feel closer to nature. You get to have so many different options to work with.”

Shortly after he married, Beale came to Philadelphia to advance his career. He became a manager at Stein’s flower shop, then at Front and Dauphin streets. Beale managed there for more than 15 years until one day he had enough.

“I just walked out at high noon and quit,” Beale said. “All the money I was making for them wasn’t going to me. I wanted something more for my family.”

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In 1970, the Senate passed a bill that provided increased federal assistance for the financing of small businesses. Beale took out a loan in 1971 to start his own shop, Paul Beale’s Florist.

“Small business is so important to the community,” Beale said. “We lived here so we wanted it to be in the community.”

When Beale started the business, he would come into work everyday day between 2 and 3 a.m. to get all his designs set up for the day. His wife would then come in at 8 a.m. to open and run the store, while Beale would make all the deliveries for the day.

“I worked night and day when I started this business but I would not trade it,” Beale said. “I love working with flowers and it has done so much for my family.”

Today, there are four generations of Beale’s working together at the flower shop located on Ogontz Avenue near Walnut Lane. They are a tight family who does not let business get in the way of their personal relationships.

The youngest of the four generations, Paul David Beale Jr., making flower arrangements.

Paulette Beale Harris, Paul’s daughter, is the store’s manager. Beale Harris never thought she would work in the flower business.

“I did not go to college to help out at a flower shop,” said Beale Harris. “But after I had thought about it and matured, I realized it had given me everything I had without putting anything into it. After more than 30 years, it has given our family everything.”

Paulette Beale Harris (daughter of Paul Beale) making a corsage for a local prom.

Beale has always loved his business and believes in replenishing his shop when it is successful.

“When your business makes money you have to put that money back into the business,” Beale said. “You can’t just go out there and splurge on other things. If you want a strong business you have to put the money back into it.”

-Text, images and video by Ed LeFurge and William Cox.

12 Comments

  1. This beautiful shop has helped me pick out flowers for my parents and grandparents they have given me the love of growing my garden. I am so grateful that they are down the street from my home.

  2. This is the best flower shop. My father dealt with them for many years and when he passed away I use them for all my flower needs. They are great .they treat you like family. Never never was unsatisfied.

  3. To the Beale Family, I am SO Proud of you and your family Success. You have the Best Floral Business in Phila. Bar None. Our love to your family and continued success.

  4. This was such a great thing to do. I often refer people to the Shop and now I can recommend that they get to know a little about the family and your business. Well Done. 5 Stars

  5. Paul Beales have been our flower shop for at least 20 years. Proms ,weddings, parties , and finally flowers for both of my parents funerals. Paulette and I would talk about business and family with each visit. But the day I walked In to order funeral arrangements,she instantly knew something was different just from my face. Thank You. Our Condolences

  6. Sorry. I’m not sure if condolences are in order. I pray they aren’t. The original post stated condolences.

  7. A staple in the West Oak Lane community for almost 50 years! Thanks for your service to the community and continued blessings to the Beale family.

    Sincerely,

    The White Family on the 69th hundred block of Ogontz Ave

  8. My thoughts and prayers are with the Beal family.
    I am now 70 years of age my mother, aunts and friend’s have used your services for years. As an African American we we’re happy to have a Black own floral shop to cater to our needs during time of bereavement. Mr Beal was always a gentleman and
    A class act. God Bless his soul.

  9. Condolences Paulette to you and your family. I M so sorry to hear of your loss.

  10. Please correct. Condolences Paulette to you and your family. We are sorry to hear of your loss.

  11. My heartfelt condolences to my Soror Paulette Beale Harris and family. Beale Florist has made the most beautiful arrangements for me, my friends and family, in and out of state, for many years. Their family is always present preparing arrangements, together! Thank you for all that you do! God Bless

  12. Our deepest condolences to the entire Beatle Family. Soror Paulette,you and I shared many stories of how we cared for our elderly parents. You told me just several weeks ago, Mr. Beale celebrated a birthday. He was a gentleman and a gentle giant in the floral business.
    We have been using Beales for over 40 years for all our needs. He is truly missed and will continue to keep the Beale Family in prayer.

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