SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — People looking for flowers and plants to spruce up their yards have shopped at Chinchilla Hardware and Variety for decades. The business offers a vast array of flowers, plants and vegetables in the store and its two greenhouses out back. That will change, however, when John Berry, owner of 48 years, retires and permanently closes the shop’s doors on Monday, July 1.
Berry’s parents, Elmer and Grace Berry opened the store in 1954 and their son took over in 1971.
The family lived upstairs in an apartment above the store. John Berry remembers sweeping the store floors when he was young.
His sister, Nancy Dellert worked at the store for many years until she moved out of the area.
John Berry has three sons, Jason, Joshua and Nathan Berry, and three grandchildren, Cameryn, Chace and Lauren Berry.
In the early days, the store sold clothes, shoes, kitchen supplies, candy, hardware, electronics, glassware and holiday items. Many of these same items are still sold today.
“Flowers and vegetable plants are our best sellers,” said Berry.
Today, you can walk through the aisles and still find electronic and hardware items but there is much more. The store sells holiday items, garden supplies, knick-knacks, bird feeders, paint supplies and more.
“Everyone is always happy when winter is over and they can come to the store and buy flowers to beautify their yards. That is a happy thing,” said John Berry’s wife, Aileen, whose son, Michael Clementi also worked at the store. “The customers say they will miss us terribly.”
“I’d drive my grandmother here from Scranton when I was younger,” said one customer, Dan Wigley of Clarks Summit. “She liked the flowers and shrubs. The old-fashioned stores such as this are going away. Some things you can only get here and not in other stores. I like the service in an old-fashioned store and the people are very nice.”
“I did not know they were closing, but I only come here once a year,” said another customer, Sharon Toman of Scranton. “I like their flowers and geraniums.”
Blue wagons line up at the side of the store waiting for customers to fill them.
People in vehicles traveling on Northern Boulevard would see “Patrick the Pumpkin” during the fall season.
“Kids loved him,” said Aileen Berry.
The pumpkin will find a new home at Darling and Sons Farms and Greenhouses in Dallas Township.
“I have mixed emotions (about closing) but it is time,” said Berry. “I haven’t decided yet what I will do when I retire, but I will find something. We have had a good following over the years and the people of the Abingtons have been good to us.”