by Walter Fox

Martha Moffett “Marty” Smith, 90, owner of a greeting card and gift shop in Chestnut Hill for 53 years, died Sept. 21 from complications of a stroke at her home on Ardleigh Street where she had been born in in 1924.

Mrs. Smith closed her shop, Martha M. Smith Gifts at 184 E. Evergreen Ave., in April of last year, citing the rising costs of running a small business in an unstable economy and a younger generation that sends fewer greeting cards. But the final straw, she said, was the appearance of Philadelphia Parking Authority kiosks in the parking lot adjacent to her shop.

Before moving to Evergreen Avenue in 1987, Mrs. Smith had conducted her business from a shop at 8510 Germantown Ave. where she had worked for another owner. She purchased the shop in 1960.

For more than five decades, Mrs. Smith’s shop was a gathering place for customers who were also her friends, who came to the shop because the owner made them feel welcome and appreciated. Many were second-generation customers.

Mrs. Smith began working on Germantown Avenue at 16 at Kilian’s hardware store.

Born and raised in Chestnut Hill, she attended J.S. Jenks Elementary School and graduated from Germantown High School in 1942, the year she married Russell Smith, who died in 2005. She worked part-time at her shop – then staffed by five people – while raising two children, and worked full-time when the children were grown.

She is survived by a son, Jonathan, of Chalfont; a daughter, Gail Coyne, of Chestnut Hill, and a sister, Marie Moffett Weir, of Schwenksville.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church.

  • Melissa Marano

    Rest in peace Marty. She was a remarkable woman who always shared her love with others. She made me feel welcomed when I started working at Top Of The Hill Cafe 6 years ago. She comforted me 3 years ago when I lost my mother and on the anniversary of my mother’s passing she always asked how i was feeling and always gave me a special Marty hug and kiss and told me that my mother is watching over me and loves me. I will miss seeing her beautiful smile and laughter.

  • SS

    Childhood will, for me, be forever associated with the big basket of “surprise balls” by the door of the shop on Germantown Avenue, and all the other happy memories of stopping in to see “Marty.” As you say, in later years every visit to the shop was accompanied by her kind remembrance of family members who had passed 40 years ago. She was an important part of the generation that made the shops of Chestnut Hill “extraordinary.” Best wishes to you, Gail.

  • Margie N.

    I remember being 12 and helping Marty in the shop. Trips to the shore, fun in the back drive and sleepovers at her house. She was always there to lend a hand, or an ear and patch me up while learning to ride a two-wheeler. Gail and I were fast friends back in the day. Marty was my second mother. A life well lived.