Holland’s Has Been Beautifying Rochester Since 1929

It started out as a way to earn extra money during the Great Depression, and evolved into a family business and Main Street landmark that has passed through three generations. In 1929, William L. Holland Sr. felt the sting of the U.S. economic collapse when his job as a foreman at Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit was reduced to part time status. To make up some of his lost income and support his family of six, Holland started a greenhouse business at his property on Norton Lawn in Avon Township (now Rochester Hills).

The greenhouse was a family effort. Everybody pitched in to help with the bedding plants and fruit trees; and when the products were harvested, they were sold in the markets at Pontiac and Royal Oak, and to customers in the Rochester area as well.

Holland’s Floral and Gifts

Holland’s Floral and Gifts

During World War II, the Hollands’ son, William Jr., entered the U.S. Navy and served aboard the submarine USS Dolphin. When he was discharged, he decided to use his GI Bill benefits to study commercial floriculture at UCLA, and to attend floral design school in Chicago. Upon his return to Rochester in 1948, Holland found that his mother had rented a storefront on Main Street with the intention of helping him to start a retail florist business. During the store’s first year, his books showed a typical profit of $7-10 a day – sometimes as much as $20 a day if business was particularly brisk.

At first, William Holland Jr. called his business Sunset Florist, not wanting to interfere with his father’s use of the Holland name at the greenhouse. About 1951, with his father’s blessing, he changed the name of the Main Street store to Holland’s Floral and Gifts.

Jim Holland is the current proprietor of Holland’s Floral and Gifts and represents the third generation of his family in the business. He began working for his parents when he was in elementary school, helping to assemble and deliver grave blankets. His parents didn’t push him toward the florist business, he told Rochester Media in a recent interview, but in time, he decided to study commercial floriculture at Michigan State University and to attend floral design school in Chicago.

Holland’s Floral and Gifts Since 1929

Holland’s Floral and Gifts Since 1929

Those who grow up in a family business will sometimes struggle with gaining customer respect while standing in the shadow of parents or older siblings long trusted by their clientele. Jim Holland handled the situation with humor. He remembers what it was like to return to the store after attending design school. “Customers would come into the store and ask my parents, ‘Is this the boy?’ I thought it was funny and I’d say, ‘Yes, this is the boy, can I help you?’ I was blessed to be working with my parents.”

Jim Holland took over Holland’s Floral and Gifts after his father’s death in 1983. The following year, he bought the building at 308 S. Main Street where the store has been located since 1948. He is proud that Holland’s has been a downtown landmark for the past 68 years and looks forward to continuing to serve the community’s floral needs for years to come. Careful attention to the customer’s needs is the key to longevity, he says. “We still fill last-minute orders for homecoming corsages and the like,” Holland pointed out. “Some stores won’t do that, I’ve heard, but we plan for it and we’re happy to do it. We’re very blessed to be a part of the Rochester community.”

About Deborah J. Larsen

Deborah J. Larsen recently retired after 34 years as local history librarian at Mount Clemens Public Library. She currently serves as the research chairperson for the Rochester-Avon Historical Society, and writes on a wide range of local history topics.


  1. I’m sorry to say that Holland’s is not a Rochester “Landmark” property. Holland refuses to accept that honorary designation from the city. Its a shame that the history of this building will not be protected from demolition.

Speak Your Mind