Harrison Florist keeps shop running, but hopes to one day open ‘historical yard sale’

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

SALISBURY — Five years ago, David Harrison thought about closing his shop, Harrison’s Florist, and selling the company. He had been the owner and sole employee at the store since 1975, when he took over the shop from his parents, and he was ready to move on to the next chapter of his life.

“What I want to do is sell the business only and have you take it somewhere else. Take this building and move all that stuff out here into this building and turn this into a historical yard sale type thing,” said Harrison.

The stuff that Harrison wants to move out of his house and into the building out back, where he currently runs the florist shop, is the entirety of his historical collection. Scattered throughout his house, Harrison has old newspapers, Life magazines, and even a signed baseball from the 1991 Rowan County American Legion baseball team.

One of those newspapers is a Salisbury Evening Post edition dated Dec. 8, 1941. The large headline on that page reads “America Declares War On Japan” and the front page also includes a story about Salisbury men enlisting and an address from President Franklin Roosevelt.

The World War II memorabilia holds a space in the history of Harrison’s life as well. Decades ago, Harrison lived next to Dave Davis, who helped with research on the nuclear bombs that were dropped on Japanese cities Nagasaki and Hiroshima while he was a student at the University of Tennessee.

“I was down visiting one day, and the Salisbury reporter knocked on his door and he said for me to excuse them, he had an interview to do. So I just stood around for a few minutes and I heard him tell the story about when he was a student at University of Tennessee,” said Harrison.

When members of the Enola Gay flight crew came down to Mocksville in 1991, Harrison was there to take pictures of them and the plaque commemorating their place in history. Those photos are now part of Harrison’s historical collection themselves, clippings of his submission to the Salisbury Post added to his rooms in his home.

If someone wants to see or hear about the collection for themselves, all they have to do is ask Harrison himself. He has a story surrounding most of his items and also remembers the history surrounding every story. One of those stories surrounds how he came to own the 1941 Salisbury Evening Post paper.

“I made a deal with somebody at a bar. They couldn’t pay their bar tab and I said I’ll pay it off for you if we can make a trade. This was 50 years, 40 years ago, and so he brought a stack of newspapers and I got a bunch of them,” said Harrison.

As the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb approaches on Sunday, Harrison continues to search for someone to buy his florist business so he can devote himself fully to collecting and sharing magazines and newspapers of historical importance. For now, they stay in protective bags stacked in boxes in a dedicated room in Harrison’s house.