NEW ADDITION — The owner and staff of Chambers and James Funeral Homes took part in a ceremonial ribbon cutting to welcome Johnnie’s Florist at James as a new addition to the Follansbee funeral home. Eric Fithyan, the floral business’ new owner, said former owner Lynn Sperlazza will continue to provide an assortment of floral arrangements and unique gifts to everyone, including other funeral homes, while operating within James Funeral Home at 1245 Main St. On hand were, from left: staff members Christopher Fox and Ellen Daugherty, Sperlazza, Fithyan, staff member Teresa Fithyan; and back: staff member Ernie Fithyan. (Photo by Warren Scott)

FOLLANSBEE — A long-time local floral shop has become part of Chambers and James Funeral Homes while continuing to offer its services for all funerals and many other occasions.

Eric Fithyan, the funeral homes’ owner, said when he learned Lynn Sperlazza, owner of Johnnie’s Florist, was considering closing the shop, he offered to buy it and move it into James Funeral Home at 1245 Main St.

Fithyan said having worked with Sperlazza over the years, he wanted to continue that relationship and saw an opportunity to expand the services offered by the two funeral homes.

“The concept of purchasing it was to expand our services to help our families through the grieving process,” he said.

Fithyan said while the presence of Johnnie’s at James — as the shop has been rechristened — will offer the convenience of an on-site florist to those served by the funeral homes, they also may employ another florist if they wish.

In addition, Sperlazza will continue to offer her talents to any funeral home and others seeking floral arrangements for a variety of occasions.

Fithyan noted that Sperlazza also has become known for applying her skill at woodworking and painting to an assortment of unique gift items, including decorative items for all seasons and holidays as well as keepsakes to remember and honor deceased loved ones.

A room at James Funeral Home formerly used for pre-arrangement conferences has been converted into a display area for her many creations.

Fithyan said current and new customers of Johnnie’s Florist may reach Sperlazza at the same phone number, (304) 527-1500.

Sperlazza, who also will join Chambers and James’ staff as an occasional funeral attendant, said the new relationship with the funeral homes came at an opportune time.

She said she was among many florists who were dealt a blow by the pandemic. As events ranging from high school proms to weddings were canceled, the demand for floral arrangements dropped.

Even funeral arrangements were scaled back, Sperlazza noted, adding, “I had no orders in April.”Learning of that, Fithyan said, “I didn’t want to see another business go away.”He noted Johnnie’s Florist has served the community for 60 years.Sperlazza noted the business was started by the late John Sisinni, who operated it with his wife, Clara; before his brother, Ross, operated it for many years.She has owned it for 15 years but started working in the field in 2000.(Scott can be contacted at NEWSLETTER Today’s breaking news […]