When Central Florist owner Lisa Elfante took the reigns of the business in 2005, she said she couldn’t tell the difference between a rose and a carnation.
But seeking to own her own shop after a career as a show business nail technician, working on set for soap operas such as “All My Children” and “Guiding Light,” Elfante decided to take a chance and “play Russian roulette,” as she put it, and closed on the deal on Feb. 8 of that year — less than a week before Valentine’s day.
“That was rough,” she said of taking ownership so close to the holiday that often makes or breaks flower shops, but Elfante said she learned on the fly. Now, more than 10 years later, and after recruiting help from her daughters Jaquilyn and Victoria, she has turned the process of preparing for the holiday into a well-oiled machine.
Valentine’s Day is a mammoth undertaking at Central Florist, Elfante explained, involving working around the clock, and equal parts logistics and grunt work.
She takes charge of orders for roses — only the finest, she said, from Ecuador — and Victoria, who she said has become her right-hand woman at the shop, handles orders for accessories such as stuffed animals, balloons, chocolates and decorations to go along with arrangements.
Then comes the task of preparing the flowers, which Elfante said involves dozens of hours of meticulous work to fulfill each customer’s order. “We touch the flowers four times before the arrangements go out,” she said.
Elfante said she fulfills orders from the tip of Brooklyn out to Suffolk County, and encouraged residents to choose their local flower shop over online services, and supermarkets, which she said offer more limited products that are more unpredictable in quality.
“People don’t realize that florists are going out of business,” she said of the stiff competition from online outlets, and noted that customers can place orders at Central through the florist’s website.
“When you call your local florist,” she said of the advantage of choosing Central, “you’re guranteed to get your order the way you want it, and delivered on time.”
Those looking for a Valentine’s gift for their special someone can stop by at 252 N. Central Ave. or visit their website at centralflorist.com.
Correction: A Previous version of this story misidentified Victoria Capalbi as Jacquilyn.