Saying it with flowers

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Whether they’re putting together the perfect bouquets, designing decorative floral arrangements or livening up festive events with colorful, eye-popping flowers, the master florists at Irene’s Florist have long been helping the locals of St. Pete express themselves with flowers.

“I’ve always loved the flowers!” enthused Acenett Peters, the current owner who purchased the business almost four years ago.

 After working for the Tampa Bay Times for 32 years, Peters decided to follow a passion of hers in owning and operating a master florist shop. ‘Master florist’ is a designation bestowed upon floral designers who are recognized by various state associations as professionals with above-average skill in the field of floral design.

“I knew I was getting to my time of retirement, and I wanted to do something that I enjoy and I enjoy the flowers,” she explained.

Washed in the Florida sunshine that floods through large glass door and windows, Irene’s Florist, 743 49th St. N, provides a bright, inviting ambience. It features flowers, plants, fruit baskets and more for every conceivable holiday and event, including anniversaries, proms, birthdays and weddings. For so many, it is the perfect, time-tested way to say, “I love you,” “thank you,” “congratulations,” or even “I miss you.”

Peters teams up with event coordinators to provide artistic bouquets and flowers for fetes, galas and dinners at various notable local venues like the Gulfport Casino and the Grand Plaza Hotel Beachfront Resort. Through its network of trusted florists and wire services, Irene’s can provide nationwide delivery. For personal delivery, the store services St. Pete, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and the beaches, but Peters noted she is willing to go the extra mile to provide service to local customers.

“If you come in and you say, ‘My aunt lives in Tampa and I need a delivery to Tampa,’ I would do that for you,” she explained.

Peters did admit that the floral business is not what it once was, as there is competition from superstores and even grocery stores these days. And like many retail businesses in Florida, it can be seasonal.

“Right now in the floral business the summer is the hardest time because locals go away, people go back up north, the kids are not in school, things change,” she said.

But people will always need flowers, she pointed out, noting that things pick up during the holiday season. Indeed, from October all the way through Mother’s Day in May is when business blossoms anew for the florists, as this includes Valentine’s Day, likely the biggest day of the year for lovers and family members to exchange sentiments with beautiful flowers and hand-arranged bouquets.

Know little about flowers or ferns? Corsages or boutonnieres? Bright gerberas, white carnations or pink asters? The knowledgeable and helpful staff members at Irene’s can help anyone decide upon the right flowers for the right occasion.

“People will come in and say, ‘I don’t have the slightest idea what I want,’ and we give them different ideas of what they can do,” Peters said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

So much of her satisfaction comes in not only meeting new people, she attested, but in providing just the right flowers to brighten their lives and that of their loved ones.

“It gives you pleasure that you know you made their day,” she said.

Recently, Irene’s Florist created the floral arrangements seen on stage at The Mahaffey Theater for Wendy Williams’ concert this past Saturday.

Visit Irene’s Florist online at www.irenestpeteflorist.com or call them at (727) 321-1221.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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