Helen Phillip with children J.R., Lee, and canine companion pose for a photo in front of Phillip’s Flowers in Cicero. The Phillip family lived above the shop in the early years.
AS GOOD AS ANY, AND BETTER THAN MOST
The Phillip Family Joins the Floral Industry
The year was 1923. Warren G. Harding passed away unexpectedly at age 57, and Calvin Coolidge became the 30th U.S. president. The first Yankee Stadium opened in the Bronx. Louis Armstrong made his first recording, and Roy and Walt Disney founded the Walt Disney Company. It was the “Roaring Twenties. ” Chicago was booming. Al Capone led an empire of crime in the Windy City. And, James A. Phillip opened the first Phillip’s Flowers shop in a rented storefront on Cermak Road in Cicero, Illinois, an early, thriving suburb of Chicago.
But, James, or “Senior ” as he was affectionately called, didn’t pick the flower business as much as it picked him. His father was a gardener in Austria before immigrating to the U.S., and he passed his love of flowers on to his son. Then, when James was in his early teens, his father passed away, and James had to drop out of school to become the breadwinner for his family. He worked for a Chicago florist, delivering flowers by streetcar in the city, and helping around the shop to learn floral design. He tried other jobs, as well, including a job with the railroad. But, he decided that the flower business was “as good as any, and better than most.” And, Phillip’s Flowers was born in that rented Cicero storefront in 1923.
IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT FAMILY
from left to right: Jim Cerney, Senior Designer; Bill Phillip (brother of founder James A. Phillip), Designer; Nick Talarico, Assistant Designer; unknown customer; George Phillip (brother of founder James A. Phillip); James A.Phillip, Founder of Phillip’s Flowers
THE REAL SECRET TO OUR SUCCESS
FROM THE PHILLIP’S FLOWERS ARCHIVES
an interior view of the Cicero store
Radio and television personality Arthur Godfrey with Lee Phillip Bell on The Lee Phillip Show
The wedding flowers referenced on the above receipt were likely delivered in this early 1940’s International Harvester Metro.
Phillip’s decorates the Papal platform for Pope John Paul’s 1979 Papal Mass at Grant Park.
Phillip’s Flowers Chairman Emeritus, Russ Phillip accepts the 2005 Illinois Retailer of the Year Award.
The kids with the dog, J.R. Phillip and Lee Phillip Bell, seen as adults. After leaving her TV career in Chicago, Lee Phillip Bell and her husband Bill would form Bell-Phillip Television Productions, Inc in Los Angeles and become the creators of two enduring CBS soap operas, The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful. J.R. would go on to lead Phillip’s Flowers down a path of thriving growth and is remembered as both a steward and a visionary of our industry.