After 25 years, Phillip Murphy is selling his business and saying goodbye to North Minneapolis
The Crystal Lake Floral Design and Orchids by Murphy building is in the process of being sold to the Loppet Foundation. A closing date is set for October.
By Kenzie O’Keefe
After a quarter century of owning his flower shop at 1420 Dowling Ave. N – and three years of running his widely-followed crime reporting Facebook page “True North Minneapolis” – Phillip Murphy has decided to leave the Northside. In late 2016, he put the shop on the market. Now he is in the final stages of selling it to the Loppet Foundation.
“We have a purchase agreement in place for that property. …We’re excited about it,” said John Munger, Executive Director of the foundation, which is dedicated to providing access and connection to outdoor activities year-round. “We’ve always obviously connected with Wirth Park and we’re excited to have a home base that’s right in North Minneapolis,” he said.
Murphy is tight-lipped about the sale and would not confirm that the Loppet Foundation is his potential buyer. This isn’t the first time he has received an offer on the property, and he does not want to say or do anything that could jeopardize the deal. “When the deal closes, everyone will know,” he said.
This paranoia should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Murphy. He has spent the last several years expecting, and regularly experiencing, the worst of North Minneapolis. “It’s been tough here,” he said, describing incidents of vandalism and other criminal activity at and around his property – like an attempted break in on March 9 that he says resulted in damaged pipes and the loss of all the plants growing in his greenhouse. “We got down to 35 degrees out here. We lost 50 years worth of work out here because of our proximity to shitbags,” he said.
Despite his pessimism, Murphy says there is one thing he’ll miss about owning his shop on the Northside: experiencing the highs and lows of daily life with his beloved customers. Though it has been a while since his shop doors were open to the public, he says he has remained dedicated to his clients through phone and online orders. “Flowers have a special way to help people heal and get through tragedy. I’ll miss that. That’s a big part of why we were here and what we did.” He has also enjoyed providing flowers for happier occasions, like supplying bouquets for first dates and other early relationship occasions: “That’s kind of a little thrill in itself,” he said.
Munger says the flower shop building, with its garage doors, offices, and workshop space, will work well for the Loppet Foundation programmatically. He says the foundation will likely work with an external partner to utilize the greenhouse space on the site. “We’ve talked a lot with Project Sweetie Pie, and it’s a matter of them getting themselves ready for the prospect of using it,” he said.
Michael Chaney, founder of Project Sweetie Pie, says this isn’t the first time his organization has been approached by potential buyers of the property, and that he would have preferred to buy the building himself, but “[Loppet] had the money. We didn’t,” he said. He hopes he can work out a way for Project Sweetie Pie to share joint ownership of the greenhouses with Loppet. "We are talking with [Munger] to see what that might look like,” he said.
Both Munger and Murphy say they have a closing date as scheduled for October.
“The property, the greenhouses will have a new lease on life serving the community with new owners by mid-October,” said Murphy. Upon his departure, Murphy, who lives in St. Louis Park, plans to archive his Facebook page and focus on different passions: photography and orchids