Last weekend I attended the Arizona State Florists Association conference for AZ flower growers and florists. Many people don’t know this, but my family owns a flower shop, or more specifically, my grandfather owns one.
A little bit about him: my grandpa’s name is Nick and he owns Baseline Flower Growers in South Phoenix (Read about them here!). He’s 94 years old and still goes into work every single day! Super impressive. My grandpa was born in Idaho but was later living in Arizona when he and his family were interned at Poston during WWII. Being the oldest son, my grandfather was able to be released in order to work. He learned how to farm, and later was able to buy land, help his family, and build the shop.
My mom has so many stories and memories of growing up in the flower shop and in the fields of flowers, which all used to be grown in the desert if you can believe it! She has a beautiful story which was picked up by KJZZ. You can listen here.
While flowers are my grandfather’s passion and we’ve all helped out in the shop, we’d never attended the Florists conference. My grandfather was honored with the Crystal Crescent award, which goes to someone in the community who has helped strengthen the flower industry. So this year, we made sure to be there. And I have to say, it was super cool!
I know very little about floral arrangements aside from the fact that they are an art and can take hours to complete. All of the speakers, vendors, and honorees were skilled at flower arranging, growing, or selling, and most had been doing it for years, sometimes with skills passed down through generations.
There was a luncheon, followed by the short awards ceremony announcing the people who had graduated from Master Florists and honoring my grandpa. My mom spoke on his behalf and talked about how he is the only one who has a set of keys to the shop, which forces him to go in every day! He was presented with a bouquet of flowers (which he gave to me) and a beautiful engraved glass award. Later, the new board was introduced and the oldest board president was introduced. He and my grandfather were super excited to meet and chat about flowers.
On the way home, we talked about what we thought was next for the shop. Years ago, when I was little, my grandfather sold the land that he used to grow flowers on, only keeping the shop. He’s used that money for many things, including helping me pay for college, which I’m thankful for.
“Let’s make it a farmer’s market,” my grandpa said to my mom. He likes the idea of it being a place for local people to sell their goods. My mom likes the idea of it being a community meeting space. I like the fact that we could still sell flowers.
I’ve never been interested in going into the floral business, but there’s something so beautiful about keeping a family business alive. Especially one with such a rich history as this. Every time I go to the shop I’m still reminded of being a kid, hiding in the huge coolers, my grandfather giving me free snacks, my grandmother’s handwriting on the sign for free flowers. I’m lucky and thankful that I got to remember all of that this past weekend.