The Flower Pot Florist shop, long a fixture on Bridgton’s Main Street, is closing up shop, and customers are lamenting the loss.

“This is the epitome of Bridgton,” said Faye Warner, 18, a customer. “Bridgton is all about stores like these.”

Flowers are a luxury at a time when people are avoiding all unnecessary costs, said owner Nona Gilman, 60, who has owned the Flower Pot for 18 years. Now, she just isn’t making enough money to stay in business.

“Flowers or oil, what do you buy?” said Gilman, who also attributed declining sales to competition from the Hannaford supermarket in town.

Warren Libby, owner of Warren’s Florist on Depot Street, said his business was down, as well. Competition from Hannaford is a factor, he said, as are the decrease in the number of local orders for out-of-state deliveries and the sliding economy.

“Flowers are a luxury,” Libby said.

The busiest times of the year to sell flowers and plants are around Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Mothers’ Day, and in May and June in general, Libby said.

Less than two weeks before the Flower Pot closes for good, there was still a collection of candles, mugs, baskets and other decorations for sale in the small store.

“Being here in town, I know everybody,” said Gilman, who said her favorite part of running the business has been the relationships she’s built with employees and customers.

One of her employees, Irene Tower, who finished nine years of working at the Flower Pot in November, was back to help her friend make Christmas arrangements. Tower and Gilman joked about what they were going to do next.

“I don’t think I could stand to stay home,” Tower said.

“Who wants to hire someone who’s 60?” Gilman said with a laugh, adding that she was thinking about continuing to do weddings from her home.

Warner stopped by the store because she saw the closing sale signs in the windows.

“I’ve been trying to get a job here since I was, like, 8,” Warner joked with Gilman, adding that if she had money, she would try to help Gilman stay open. They chatted about Warner moving to California and Warner reminisced about coming into the store when she was a child to buy daisies.

Gilman said many customers have come into the store to say they are sad she’s closing, and one person came in three separate times to say goodbye.

Esther and Peter Meyer stopped by last week because they heard it was shutting down. Peter Meyer has been buying his wife anniversary flowers at the Flower Pot for 24 years, starting back when it was under different ownership, and was disappointed to see the store close.

Meghan Sawicki stopped in, as well, to buy a bouquet of flowers. She said she has been shopping at the store for 10 years, and she didn’t think the quality was the same anywhere else in town.

“I’m very sad about it (closing),” Sawicki said.

Gilman, though, stayed positive. “Another door opens when one closes,” she said to Sawicki.

After owning the Flowerpot Florist on Main Street in Bridgton for 18 years, Nona Gilman has decided to close her doors at the end of December. Gilman said her business has slowed down in the last couple of years, and she would miss the workers and customers the most.Faye Warner, 18, browses at the Flowerpot Florist in Bridgton Friday after noticing that the store was going out of business. Warner, who grew up in Bridgton, said she was sad to see the store go. “Bridgton is all about stores like these,” Warner said.

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