Florist helps fans mourn the King of Pop

Morrie Fiss, manager of Glendale Flower Mart, has been a media darling lately.

Reporters from London and Germany have swung by his flower store asking for interviews and insider tips about the neighboring Forrest Lawn Memorial Park across the street on South Glendale Avenue.

The cemetery is now the final resting place for Michael Jackson and could become a pilgrimage of sorts for fans of one of the greatest pop stars of all time. And so if location is everything, Glendale Flower Mart is poised to see big business.

“We are in a great, great location,” Fiss said. “It’s amazing how many different people are buried there. It’s beautiful with the tiles, statues and paintings, and people like to place flowers up there.”

But business was slow all day Thursday with the closure of parts of South Glendale Avenue and surrounding streets. Fiss and his staff advised customers to return Friday or next week when the cemetery grounds would be open again to the public.

“We expect business to be deferred,” he said. “Right after the service, fans and everyone else can come in over next week. With the cemetery open and people visiting, we get a lot of folks.”

Several tourists — ejected at the tightly controlled media zone outside Forest Lawn — have already stopped by the store. A tourist from Georgia and another woman from the East Coast shared their heartbreak with the florist.

“We’ve been honest with people and telling people they can’t take any flowers up until Friday,” he said.

Fiss bought one-and-a-half times the usual stock of flowers in anticipation of more business in the weeks ahead, he said. There is no outright Michael Jackson special, but the shop is wall-to-wall with bouquets, roses, lilies and Gerbera daisies, which are among the most popular funeral arrangements, he added.

There has not yet been a Jackson fan favorite of flower arrangements, Fiss said.

“But we can take care of any Michael Jackson fan,” he said.

A customer interjected, “Get bouquets for celebrities.”

Fiss has seen just about everything, from family members buying flowers in memoriam, to celebrity fans and disciples who want to celebrate the life of the figure they grew up idolizing. George Burns bought fresh flowers weekly to lay beside the resting place of Gracie Allen. Nat King Cole’s family are longtime customers.

“The nicest thing is for people to visit, and for someone as special as Michael, to bring some flowers,” Fiss said.

Fiss’s grandfather started the flower shop in 1954 and it has been handed down through the generations. Each morning, Fiss’s father would hustle down to the flower district downtown Los Angeles.

Flowers have been in Fiss’s family so long that giving flowers as a gift no longer packs the same punch.

“I can’t buy my wife flowers,” Fiss said. “It has to be diamonds.”


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