After 45 years in the same location on the south end of town, the Boston Flower Exchange property has been sold to a real estate development company that plans to build a tech-office campus on the five-acre Albany Street site. The century-old floral wholesale cooperative, which was founded in 1909 at a nearby location in the South End, closed Feb. 28 and will re-open March 1 about five miles away in Chelsea, MA, under a new name — the New England Flower Exchange.
“All the vendors that are currently at the Boston Flower Exchange are moving to Chelsea — with the exception of one — and we’re hoping there will be no change in the flow at all; no difference in how we handle the product,” Gerald Cupp, president at Cupp & Cupp Corp. in Boston, said. “We are trying to design the new facility a little more updated than the old one — which was built in 1971 — because things were a lot different then, like the way our refrigeration was set up. So this will help us keep the cold chain and more efficiently handle product.”
Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino indicated that the Exchange has signed a lease of approximately 15 years with the property owner on Second Street, near the New England Produce Market. Ambrosino said in a news release that the exchange would be a good fit in that location, near what is a wholesale fruit and food clearinghouse for all of New England.
“The proximity to the produce market is going to be an advantage for us,” said Cupp. “There are a lot of restaurants and small supermarket chains, and even bigger ones, that do
business in the produce market terminal. It’s less than 500 yards away so we’re hoping there will be customers that we don’t even know about right now.”
Cupp thinks that some of their south shore customers may decide to take advantage of their delivery services, rather than drive to Chelsea themselves. “Sometimes traffic can be difficult,” Cupp said. “Most of our customers are here in the morning, by 9 o’clock, so five miles away is another six to seven minutes. We’re trying to keep in constant communication with our south shore customers and let them know that if they can’t come in, we’ve got four or five trucks a day that run south, so we can handle it for them.”
Trucks are also sent to other parts of New England. “We serve about 100 miles for our customers,” said Cupp. “We send trucks to Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and we go down into northern New York.”
The majority of the dozen or so vendors of the Boston Flower Exchange “are committed to perpetuating the flower market tradition in the greater Boston area with a seamless transition to a new facility in Chelsea,” according to the coop’s website. “We’re still selling flowers after all these years and will be for a whole lot more. Just remember, when one door closes another will open. See you in Chelsea,” read the closing message on the exchange’s site.