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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 11, 2010
A Valentine for florists
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND Jean Simmons, owner of Classica Florist, anticipates a very happy Valentine’s Day this year. For the first time in three years, she won’t be losing rose sales for the holiday to the Guilderland Fire Department.
Since 2007, the Guilderland Fire Department has held a fund-raiser, selling roses at reduced prices for the three days leading up to Valentine’s Day. The department posted signs all along Western Avenue, advertising its sale, and Simmons, whose shop is located on Route 20, noticed a significant decrease in Valentine’s Day sales a majority of the florist’s business.
Sales were so low down by as much as 80 percent for Classica Florist in 2009, that Simmons was worried she might have to close her doors. Other Guilderland florists felt the pinch. A Touch of Country, located in the 20 Mall, was also directly affected by the fund-raiser, according to owner Steve Irwin. Irwin said in October that he had contacted the fire department directly and gotten an apologetic response, but did not sense a willingness to change.
In an attempt to resolve the issue, Simmons wrote a letter to the Guilderland Fire Department in early September, explaining the large hit her sales were taking, and asking it to reconsider the fund-raiser in 2010. The Enterprise ran a front-page story on the issue on Oct. 8, 2009. (For the full story go online to www.altamontenterprise.com, under Guilderland archives, for the week of Oct. 8, 2009.)
The department held a vote after it received Simmons’ letter, and decided at that time to go ahead with the fund-raiser for another year. Simmons then wrote a letter to the Guilderland Fire District commissioners in late October, asking them to use their authority to object to the rose sale fund-raiser.
“You have the ability and duty as elected officials to object to this type of fund-raiser that is a detriment to the local florists,” wrote Simmons in her letter. On Nov. 12, Simmons received a letter from William Young, of Wein, Young, Fenton and Kelsey, P.C. Young is the attorney to the Guilderland Fire District. He informed Simmons that the board of commissioners and the fire department members had reviewed her October letter and decided to forgo the rose sale fund-raiser for 2010.
“Many of our members who are volunteers…are also members of the business community. They too have been negatively impacted by the downturn in the economy. It was never their intent to have a negative impact upon local business,” wrote Young in his letter to Simmons.
“I’m really excited for Valentine’s Day this year,” Simmons told The Enterprise yesterday. She said the Guilderland Fire Department had recently taken a vote to stop using her shop as its florist, but said she was not overly concerned about being “black-balled.”
“Anything I lose throughout the year from that decision, I’ll make up 10-fold on Valentine’s Day. I’m very optimistic,” she said. Simmons has also decided to offer what she is calling a “Hero’s Special” discount 15 percent off for police, fire, emergency medical services, and military members.
“I’m trying to be nice, and give back to the community a little bit,” said Simmons. She said she had already started to notice an increase in rose sales, starting on Tuesday.