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Sam Shun Leong moved his family from Oakland to San Mateo in 1931. He sold fruits and vegetables door to door.

He had heard that a route along the Peninsula was available, and that those people were willing to pay for good produce. This was the middle of the Depression. It was a fortunate move. Sam and his wife still had four children at home. Gordon was 16, Mable was 14, Lincoln was 11 and Arthur was 10. A dynasty was soon to be born.

Shortly after Gordon graduated from High School, he began working for a "bucket shop." Now a bucket shop was not really a florist, but more like a flower stand. The owner bought cut flowers at the wholesale market and resold them locally. There were no arrangements or potted plants, just cut flowers wrapped in paper. Gordon studied the business for a year and then decided he could make more money on his own.

Nineteen-year-old Gordon borrowed $150 from an older married sister and opened a roadside flower store in 1933. His first location was at El Camino Real and 28th Avenue in San Mateo. In those days, that was two miles from the nearest neighbor out in an isolated woodsy area. He rented the building for $30 per month. The whole family left their old rented home and moved into the back rooms. Four years later, they were able to buy the property.

Gordon named his enterprise Ah Sam in honor of his father. His father retired from the fruit and vegetable business to help his son. Mable, Lincoln and Arthur also joined the business full time when they finished their educations. Each had particular abilities that were applied to different parts of the business.

Mable was especially good with customers, and she became the main contact with their regular clientele. For years she handled the elaborate weddings and parties. Lincoln was good with public and industry relations and also handled delivery. Arthur was the artist who did the floral designs and the store and window displays. Gordon himself knew flowers and plants and had a mechanical flair. He was their buyer and also was in charge of auto repair, plumbing and electrical problems. This symbiotic relationship worked well for the family business.

The years brought steady growth and expansion. Hard work, quality products, creative designs and personalized service built their reputation for excellence. They bought a walk-in refrigerator in 1940. In 1942, they were able to build a new family home on the rear of their property. They bought more property. Over the years they added greenhouses and lath houses in which to grow their products. They added a gift room to offer floral containers and other items for sale.

Lincoln was away from the business for a while when he served in the Air Force during World War II, but he returned in 1946. Arthur died unexpectedly in 1980 and Gordon retired a few years after that. Mable died in 1986 and the last of the founding members, Lincoln, retired in 1988.

Ah Sam's is still run by the Leong family, now into its third generation. It reputedly is the largest florist and greenhouse operation on the West Coast. They have provided floral decorations for many of the more memorable occasions in the Bay Area, including galas for visiting presidents and royalty.

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Ah Sam Florist https://www.ahsam.com/images/siteSettingWide/LOGOblackonly-Large-crop175-14111455807.jpg 2645 S. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403 (650) 341-5611


Ah Sam Florist |Flowers, Plants, Home Decor: 2645 So. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403 650-341-5611

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