One of Lewiston’s oldest ventures, Stillings & Embry Florists, has closed, opening the door for a payday loan and rent-to-own furniture store to relocate.

Stillings & Embry’s last day was Saturday, leaving the community without a business that helped families celebrate and mourn through two World Wars, the Great Depression and the recession.

The owner, Sharla Hubbard, 73, made the difficult decision to retire after looking unsuccessfully for a buyer for more than five years. With few options, Hubbard sold the building at 1440 Main St. to ColorTyme owner Gary Hughes in a deal that closed Tuesday.

ColorTyme will move from its leased location at 205 Diagonal St. in Clarkston to Lewiston, opening sometime in November, said Kacee Hayes, vice president of GCH Management, the home office for all of the ColorTymes Hughes owns.

The store carries products such as rent-to-own furniture, electronics and appliances.

“We have to do some remodeling to make that building accommodate what we need,” Hayes said.

CashTyme, another Hughes business on 21st Street in Lewiston, will continue to operate in its present location.

Hubbard has two weeks from when the sale was final to wind down the business, sell fixtures and remove what she wants from the building. Early last week, Stillings & Embry was still filling orders, including ones for a new baby and another for a 59th wedding anniversary.

“We’ve got so many really loyal customers,” Hubbard said. “I feel really bad about closing.”

A few potential buyers looked seriously at the business, she said, but never explained to her why they didn’t follow through. They might have been worried about competition, which has grown over the decades.

“So many people are into selling flowers now, (even) grocery stores and gas stations,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Hubbard said, she enjoyed providing the high level of customer service that was part of the store’s legacy since it was founded in 1914 by the Stillings family.

Embry was added to the name after Clay Embry married one of Stillings’ daughters and took over the business. It was sold to Mel and Ruth White and then Joe and Imogene Vassar before Hubbard acquired it with her husband, Gordon, 31 years ago.

She was in banking before taking over the store, and that background helped her. She learned how to make flower arrangements, but said she generally hired more creative people to do that work.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” Hubbard said. “It’s kind of a bittersweet goodbye.”

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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