In 1918, after serving Italy in World War I, Joe Donzelli and his wife, Bessie, traveled to America to make their new home.

The couple settled in Akron. Donzelli spent 45 years working for Pflugers fishing tackle plant where he saved enough money to purchase a piece of investment property on Waterloo Road. That property eventually became known as Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center.

It was recently announced that the long-standing flower and garden center is closing. The company has enjoyed healthy business during the spring and holiday seasons, however, the summer and fall seasons have become increasingly quiet and financially the center has fallen below acceptable levels.

A contributing factor to the poor performance has been isolation from other specialty stores which is needed to increase store traffic. In addition, garden centers depend on new housing starts to fuel their growth and there has been minimal growth in this area.

The trend has been obvious to the retailers since the recession of 2007 and around 2010 as other retailers returned to their pre-recession growth levels and increased traffic in their stores the Waterloo location did not.

Donzell’s has served the public for 66 years. When Joe and Bessie’s son, Sam (Salvatore), came home from serving in the Navy in Korea, he began his own business on his father’s Waterloo property. It was a business that area residents knew would improve the neighborhood. Sam’s flower shop was first known as Belle Rose Florist opening in 1953. He ran the flower shop with his wife, Bonnie, all the time working at Goodyear Aerospace at night.

In the beginning, the couple sold fresh cut flowers and soon began to have a large selection of plants and live flowers which were in demand by their customers. It was not long before the Belle Rose Florist became Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center.

Surrounded by many families working at the rubber industries, Donzell’s was well supported and grew into a much larger business including holiday items at Christmas time, and it sold many unique and interesting home décor items. It was in 1981 that Donzell’s added the large Christmas decoration department, which grew to national acclaim and became a very popular destination for customers from far away during the holiday time.

In a press release the Donzelli family stated, “We, the Donzelli family, love our industry and are grateful for 66 years of serving the surrounding communities. We will miss our many long-time customers; many have been patrons of our business for decades. We plan to help our full-time staff find new positions and some will be relocated to our Cleveland location, Gales Westlake Garden Center, which the family also owns and operates.”

Liquidation has begun and the hours and liquidation policies can be found on Donzell’s Facebook page or at There is not yet a definite closing date. Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center is located at 937 E. Waterloo Road.