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Flood leads to friendship, merger

April 6, 2011
By Ashley Hill ( , The Marietta Times

When the Ohio River spilled over its banks and flooded much of Marietta in September 2004, Debbie Close, owner of Porter's Florist on Putnam Street, reached out to Aletha Shirley, owner of Aletha's Florist on Greene Street, and offered to help her out.

"I had never met her, but she called down and asked if I would like to transfer my phones up to her and if I wanted to come up there and my girls work there during the flood," Shirley said. "We just stayed friends."

On Jan. 1, Shirley purchased Porter's Florist, acquiring its three employees and as much inventory as would fit in her shop.

"We were wanting to pursue other interests," said Close, who has owned Porter's with her husband, Wayne, for about seven years.

The Close's also own the building that housed Porter's. They offered to sell it to Shirley, but she declined.

"I have been here on the corner this August will be 33 years and I have parking right up front and I have all my big coolers and compressors," Shirley said. "I would've loved to have had the space up there, but it's easy for get here."

Fact Box

About the merger:

Aletha Shirley, owner of Aletha's Florist, purchased Porter's Florist on Jan. 1.

Some of the inventory from Porter's was purchased by Shirley and moved into her shop at 132 Greene St., Marietta. The rest of the inventory will be sold by appointment by contacting former Porter's Florist owner Debbie Close at 749-3483.

The three employees who worked at Porter's joined the four to five people who work at Aletha's.

The building that housed Porter's at 111 Putnam St., Marietta, will be put up for sale.

Instead, the building at 111 Putnam Street that once housed Porter's will be sold, as well as the inventory Shirley didn't purchase.

"We have all the display pieces and coolers and (some) inventory, also," Close said.

Because of the merger, Shirley said business has been booming at her shop, and traffic at her website,, has also picked up significantly.

"I just wanted Porter's customers to know they were still being taken care of," Shirley said. "We have their designers and delivery people, so they...can still talk with the same people."

Debbie Close said she and her husband appreciate the many years of support they received from their customers, and they feel the business is in good hands.

"I think because (Aletha) has been in business for a lot of years...this was a good transition," she said. "We do appreciate the feedback we got from the customers when we did sell. It was very positive and encouraging."



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