Time is Short for the Longtime Subway Florist of 14th Street

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Robert Carmona

With the rebranded L train “slowdown” one day away, time is slim for the longtime subway florist on 14th Street. Our roving photographer – Lower East Side native Robert Carmona – caught up with the subterranean peddler last month to learn the latest.

Periklis Tsoumas, who has been at the 1st Avenue and 14th Street subway station since 1972, is not giving up until forced out. This small basement business is his lifeblood, and livelihood. Indeed, selling flowers to straphangers reportedly put two of his kids through college.

Now with construction conceivably in every direction, and on the occasion of his seventy-second birthday, the platform perch is compromised. It’s the feeling that a funeral could happen at any moment.

“I’m gonna be here until the MTA makes their L Train shutdown decision,” Tsoumas quipped.

He told us that he cries when he thinks about leaving, but is comforted by the steady stream of customers who continue to check in on his welfare.

“More people have been coming here taking pictures of me. I talked to my wife about closing but then I start crying,” he says.

Photo: Robert Carmona

Periklis Tsoumas is defiant, though. Nobody knows what’s going on with regard to the Shutdown, he alleges. So, shortly before his birthday this month, he increased hours to seven days a week (up from six). The decision is not financially motivated, but rather emotional.

Just flowers and a smile; that’s what easily endears him to locals. On a recent visit, he told a story that represents exactly what we lose as each of these community pillars fade. A young lady recently paid a visit and explained how her mother had purchased flowers from Tsoumas throughout her life, including her wedding and daughter’s communion. Other folks stopped by while this was happening, also wishing to pay respects.

These are the small-time folk that are overlooked in the new Lower East Side, and are not acknowledged until they’re gone.

The L-Train slowdown project begins tomorrow evening (April 26) and is slated to last at least a year.

Recent Stories

Teenager Arrested in Connection with Essex Card Shop Fire on Avenue A

A teenager has been arrested in connection with the alarm fire that destroyed the Essex Card Shop at 47 Avenue A last week. EV Grieve first confirmed the news yesterday. Charges against the 13-year-old – whose name was withheld due to his age – include second-degree arson. Officials told the blog that that the arsonist […]

Woman Dies Month After Being Hit by School Bus in Chinatown

A pedestrian struck by a school bus in Chinatown last month has succumbed to her injuries. On December 16, at approximately 1:45pm, 67-year-old Ahhon Lau was struck in the intersection of Monroe and Catherine Streets. When officers arrived at the scene, Lau was found unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS transported her […]

Brooklyn Fare Market Makes it Official at One Manhattan Square

Brooklyn Fare Kitchen & Market officially announced its Lower East Side entrance with banner advertising at One Manhattan Square. The vinyl skins are now in the windows along Cherry Street, advertising free delivery and fresh produce. As previously reported, the upscale grocer signed a lease to occupy 25,500 square-feet across two floors in the base […]

Crab du Jour Goes Down After a Year on Grand Street

Crab du Jour, the ubiquitous franchise selling Cajun-style seafood, closed its Lower East Side location earlier this month. The shutter comes exactly one year after the fast-food spot first opened at 384 Grand Street. Several readers alerted us to the closure, noting that the restaurant hasn’t been open the last several days. Moreover, customers can […]

Former Red Square Retail Demolished for New Development

Nearly six years ago, the Dermot Company purchased the former Red Square for $100 million from Michael Rosen. The residential complex was further upscaled in the interim, and whitewashed into submission. The $100 million deal included space in the adjacent one-story retail. What largely went unnoticed at the time, though, is that the Rosen family […]