By Diana Ramos/El Inde
The sound of bells hanging on a red double door means that a customer arrives. Pati Velasquez, the Flower Shop on 4th Avenue’s manager and events coordinator, welcomes the customer, a young woman into the shop. The smell of fresh flowers is everywhere.
Flowerpots made of glass, plastic or ceramic in different geometric shapes and colors decorate the wood and glass shelves on the shop’s light green walls.
The customer looks happy as she holds a floral arrangement in a glass flower pot with a white and pink striped ribbon around it. Velasquez, a woman with short wavy wine-colored hair wears a floral design mask.
For Velasquez, the process of creating floral arrangements consists of asking a lot of questions to her clients, such as: “What is your favorite color? What is it for? Any favorite flower?” She tries to gather as much information as she can. This facilitates the creative process so she can design something unique for everybody.
“To me flowers are very personal. You don’t just go giving flowers to anybody. There is always a sentiment behind it,” Velasquez said.
Flowers have different meanings. For example, if someone comes to Velasquez asking for an anniversary floral arrangement, she will ask the customer about his or her wedding flower. With this information, she can bring memories back.
“When you are designing with flowers, you’re not just throwing them in a vase. It’s like you’re expressing a feeling through your art, your flower art,” Velasquez said.
Flowers often are cataloged as beauty elements of nature that represent love and compassion. Nora Shultz, a fair-skinned woman with short light blonde hair and bangs and her husband David Shultz, are the owners of the Flower Shop on 4th Avenue; a shop that has been recognized as a BloomNation’s Best Florist in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Gardenias brings back Nora’s childhood memories, of a time when she was at her grandmother’s house who had a gardenia bush outside her front door with a pleasant fragrance.
“My favorite flower is gardenia … I love the dark green and shiny glossy foliage,” said Nora via email.
Nora always wanted to own a flower shop. So, in 2015, when she and her husband saw the chance to buy the shop, they jumped at the opportunity to be surrounded by beauty and happiness. The flower shop opened in March 2015.
The Flower Shop on 4th Avenue stands out from other flower businesses because of its friendly customer service and its unique style that matches with the Historic Fourth Avenue, a lively area near downtown Tucson with small shops, boutiques and restaurants.
“Our shop fits in very well with the funky vibe that is Fourth Avenue,” David said via email.
According to Velasquez, Fourth Avenue is a fun, eclectic, free-spirited area where everything is locally made. Thus, the shop is far from being an impersonal flower delivery service business. By creating its own floral designs, the shop has complete creative control over its floristry.
In the shop, customers can personalize their orders by choosing the flowers, the size, the colors and the style that they want, or they can go to the shop’s website and take a look at the pre-designed models for different occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, funerals or anniversaries.
During COVID-19 times, people have been sending flowers to show their loved ones how much they are missed and appreciated, according to Nora.
“Sending flowers has had a renaissance in the COVID-19 world. People buy flowers for many occasions, or just because they love someone who loves flowers,” Nora said.
As a little girl, Velasquez loved flowers. Big and fluffy garden roses remind Velasquez of her favorite cartoon movie: Alice in Wonderland. In particular, the scene where Alice is in the garden surrounded by flowers is memorable for Velasquez.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Velasquez decided to start working full-time managing the shop and doing all the events like weddings and parties. Through flowers, Velasquez developed more sensitive senses that she says allow her to perceive and interpret people, which help her in the creation of floral arrangements.
“Designing flowers to me, it’s like you are painting a picture, but you are using flowers … It’s just another medium of art,” Velasquez said.
Nora, David and Velasquez created a family climate around the shop where they see themselves as the three musketeers, where everyone has a role to play. Velasquez is in charge of designing the floral arrangements, Nora is in charge of taking the online orders and answering phone calls, and David is the delivery man.
“[The shop] is a reflection of our personalities and we all bring something different to our place,” Nora said.
Although each musketeer has their own responsibilities, they help each other in every way they can in completing tasks.
A regular day in the Flower Shop on Fourth Avenue consists of Nora organizing and printing orders out. Velasquez gets them to start designing and David routes the orders by zip code to decide what routes work best for timed deliveries.
“The fun part of my job is driving around and delivering flowers and smiles to people,” said David, who also drives for a bakery.