Something Ventured: Central Square Florist

Family-owned Central Square Florist has been a cornerstone to the square for decades, catering to the local community since 1929. But the voice of the small, colorful shop has evolved in recent years as ownership has been passed down to a member of the family’s youngest generation, Jackie Levine.
Central Square Florist, which Levine’s grandfather’s uncle originally opened down the road at the intersection of Pearl and Massachusetts Ave., is now a fourth-generation family business. Levine has worked alongside her grandparents, father, and sister from a young age, lending a hand with packaging during the holidays and making deliveries around town when she was old enough to drive. Levine always aspired to put her own spin on the shop one day.
“When you’re younger, in school, you draw what you want to be when you grow up,” Levine says. “When I was 5 years old, I drew a flower shop with me with flowers. What 5-year-old is a florist? Everyone else wanted to be a firefighter, or a singer, or a teacher. Mine was very specific. I’ve always held the business really close to my heart.”
Now, Levine co-owns the shop with her father, David Levine. Each new generation of the family has ushered in updates in technology, she explains.
“In the late ’80s, my dad was like, ‘We’re getting a computer,’ and grandma was like, ‘What, no we’re not,’” Levine says. “She does like change, so she was like, ‘This better be good,’ and it completely transformed our business.”
“My dad always prides himself as the one who created the Twitter and Facebook pages for us, because I was younger when that came out,” Levine, 25, continues. “He made those, but I kind of took over those roles from him. My role is very much on the social side and on the web side.”
During her time at Central Square Florist, Levine has focused most on further integrating the shop with its community by catering more weddings and events, welcoming new small business neighbors, and networking at the local events to which Central Square Florist donates floral arrangements.
“We’ve always been very passionate about supporting the community around us, the Cambridge community,” Levine explains. “We’re also really into going to those events or making sure that we participate physically. Having a face to our name too is really special and important.”
Levine also started the “name game” at Central Square Florist, a daily rose giveaway for the lucky individual whose name is written at random on a chalkboard that sits outside of the shop.
Central Square Florist has always offered a wide variety of flowers sourced from locations in New England and around the globe year round. Levine’s fresh perspective, though, is apparent in the selection of plants that complement these timeless floral arrangements: Leafy monstera, desert cacti, and colorful croton plants attract a younger crowd of customers to the world of flowers.
“We’ve always had a good amount of plants, but I’m really into bringing in the trendy, hot plants,” Levine says. “I kind of know what’s in, making sure we’re up to trend and staying relatable. If there’s a really cool plant out there, I will find a way to get it, and I get excited about it.”
And over the years, Levine has noticed more and more customers coming in without a special occasion in mind, wanting just to treat their friends or themselves to something to brighten the day.
Levine says she feels lucky to have her family business grow alongside Central Square.
“Just like Cambridge is diverse, our customers are very diverse as well,” Levine explains, “which makes Cambridge really special, the neighborhood really special, and just our business very special, that we have all kinds of people that shop here. We want to support people who also support us.”

Central Square Florist is located at 653 Massachusetts Ave. For more information, call (617) 354-7553 or visit centralsquareflorist.com.

This story appears in the July/August print issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots in Cambridge (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.

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