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June 27, 2022

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Longtime Vancouver business Luepke Flowers and Finds to close

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
8 Photos
A pedestrian walks past Luepke Flowers and Finds on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 27, 2019, which has announced it is set to close on Feb. 28.
A pedestrian walks past Luepke Flowers and Finds on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 27, 2019, which has announced it is set to close on Feb. 28. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Luepke Flowers and Finds in downtown Vancouver is set to close today.

The business announced the news Monday in a post on its Facebook page but did not give a reason for the decision. An employee confirmed the closure date but referred further questions to the owner, Bruno Amicci, who could not be reached for comment.

“We appreciate your business, friendship and support over the last four years and from the first Luepke Flower shop in 1909,” the company wrote in the post. “We have delivered happiness, love, cheers and farewells. We have greeted new lives, helped plan new beginnings and celebrated lives past. We truly loved creating expressions of beauty and love for all of you!”

An identical notice was posted in the store window this week, along with a sign advertising 50 percent off all merchandise.

On the Facebook post, one commenter asked if anyone had expressed interest in purchasing and continuing the business. The store page replied “not at this time.”

110-year history

The store — originally Luepke Florist — was founded in 1909 by Frank and Edla Luepke, who moved to the Portland area from Texas where they had previously operated another florist shop.

The original Luepke Florist was located at the same site as its present-day incarnation at 1300 Washington St., but the original building burned down in July 1937, according to Clark County records.

Its art deco replacement was designed by Vancouver architect Donald Stewart and built later that same year. It has served as the home of the florist business ever since. An addition was built on the west side of the building in 1945, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Frank Luepke died in 1930, and Edla Luepke died in 1936, according to The Columbian’s Clark History database. Ownership passed to their son Rudy Luepke and daughter Gertrude Luepke Gerstein, who continued to run the store for decades.

Rudy Luepke went on to become a city councilor in 1957 and later the mayor of Vancouver from 1962 to 1966. He died in 1969, and his share in the company was purchased by Gerstein’s son-in-law Ronald Frichtl. Gerstein retired in 1974, and the Frichtls bought her half of the business, becoming the third generation of family owners.

The shop’s longtime manager, Maria Adler, and her husband, Alan Adler, bought the business from the Frichtls in 2004 and continued to operate it until November 2014, when they announced their intention to close the store by the end of the year.

The Adlers cited declining revenue as one of the reasons for their decision, due to the widespread availability of flowers at supermarkets and home improvement stores. The couple also said they wanted to spend more time with their grandchildren.

Another factor in their decision was an expected rent increase after the Luepke building was sold earlier in 2014. The couple said they had looked into selling the business but couldn’t find an interested buyer.

A few weeks later, a buyer emerged: Amicci, the same man who had purchased the building.

“I just didn’t want to see an old institution like that die,” Amicci told The Columbian in December 2014.

Luepke Station

Amicci built a career in the technology field. He and his partner, Kerry Kurth, founded Low Bar in downtown Vancouver. He said his purchase of the Luepke building was fueled by a fascination with 1930s art and culture. 

After buying the florist business, Amicci and Kurth announced plans to revitalize the building by renovating the exterior and interior, adding a dining area in the building’s addition and rechristening the whole package as “Luepke Station.”

The plan quickly came to fruition; the renamed Luepke Flowers and Finds stayed open through the transition with most of the same staff, and the renovations and exterior Luepke Station sign were completed in 2015.

A mural entitled “Luepke History” was also added to the outside of the building’s north wall, painted by Portland artist Michael Feliz and depicting Frank Luepke and the original Luepke Florist shop.

Tap Union Freehouse, a brewpub specializing in hard-to-find craft beers, opened in the other half of the building in 2016. It’s unclear what the closure of Luepke Flowers and Finds will mean for the future of the building, but an employee at Tap Union said the brewpub is not affected and will remain open.

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Columbian business reporter

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