Like crocus peeking through a snow covered landscape, entrepreneurs are opening up new businesses across the city. The graffiti scarred plywood is coming down, the butcher block paper that keeps people from peeping into the empty shells of what used to be vital community hubs is being stripped from the windows and new ventures are setting forth.
It’s a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit that in the midst of a still ongoing pandemic, with a new surge happening, there are people who are willing to sign leases, take the leap of faith to create a new retail outlet and stake themselves into the next level of entrepreneurial adventures.
This past Sunday Sammy’s Blossoms opened for business at 1302 Pico Blvd. Steven Castro and his mother Lupe erected a giant purple and silver balloon attention getter, with a big red flowered heart to alert the neighborhood that there’s a new florist in town when I noticed them
Steven is turning what used to be conventional thinking on its head. He is moving from an online presence into a retail one. “My grandfather wanted to build a tortilleria in Santa Monica. He always wanted to own his own business. He’d bought the machines, but wasn’t able to pull the trigger. So I’m doing it, in my own way, as a tribute to him and his goal. It’s a way to honor my family and build something for my 6 year old son” said Castro. He is a second generation born and bred Santa Monican, as his mother was quick to point out.
Starting out, Castro went to Community Corp, that behemoth of social good in our midst, and they were working with him, but they wanted to put him in the new structure they just broke ground on at 19th and Pico which is slated for a 2023 occupancy. Obviously that was a non-starter. So he went looking for other space, luckily there’s lots of open shops for new businesses, and the smart landlords are willing to make some good deals these days.
Sammy’s Blossoms flower shop is located on the corner of Euclid and Pico, in what was Andy’s Cleaners. “I used to bring my suits and shirts in here. So when I was looking for a place to lease, and it was open, seemed like a good idea.” The shop is a block and a half away from Woodlawn Cemetery so I imagine there’ll be some good business to be had, once it is fully outfitted with proper signage. During the height of the shutdown I would be walking in the cemetery and it was a thought of mine that a flower shop across the street would be a good idea. There were a few open spots in the commercial strip on 14th street and the idea ended as quickly as it came.
Sammy’s Blossoms is starting out as traditional flower shop. They’ve got the roses, the peonies, the birds of paradise, a selection of big orchid plants with lush displays of flowers. This is not the typical selection of floral offerings you get at Trader Joes or Ralphs. Castro is aiming to build a business that will provide Instagram/Facebook/Social Media worthy props.
The giant red flowered heart is a perfect rental piece for a Valentine’s day party or perhaps the back-lit rose display for a quinceanera are samples of what he is looking to create for our community. Lupe wants to add in small plants and maybe even a coffee bar. Steven is going to be running his notary public business out of there as well – which is a happy event for me, as my local notary had retired and I was having to source mobile notaries.
Sitting in this retail store that has a new floor, and fresh paint, and the smell of hope and anxiety mixed with the sweet scent of hundreds of flowers, I was reminded that yes, even after a world overturning pandemic, life does go on. People will pick themselves up, and start afresh to pursue a dream, complete a family passion and provide for a future generation.
Sammy’s Blossoms is across the street from my office and I hope to see that parking lot full on a regular basis with people stopping in to get flowers for their home, a bouquet for a loved one in the cemetery and maybe some fresh basil or mint to through in a ragout for a romantic night’s dinner with a loved one.
If you have good idea for a story, or know of a company that is innovating in some novel way that should be brought to a wider audience, please drop me an email at DAVID@SMDP.COM and let’s see what the future is looking like.