Word on the Street: 100-year-old San Francisco Floral opens new shop in Fresno

The Fresno BeeSeptember 8, 2013 

San Francisco Floral will turn 100 this year and the business is celebrating by opening a new store that honors its roots.

The store, called San Francisco Floral Arte di Fiore — Italian for "art of flowers" — opened last month in the Pavilion West shopping center at Bullard and West avenues. It's a move from the location across the street near Save Mart.

"Instead of doing some type of advertising campaign letting everybody know we're 100 years old, we figured 'Let's give ourselves a facelift,'" said Andy Azzaro.

Azzaro's grandfather, John Azzaro, started the company in 1913, after coming to the U.S. from Italy. He came here with his four brothers, three of whom worked with him picking greenery that was sold at a flower market near San Francisco to pay off the cost of their trip. Eventually they opened Azzaro Brothers florist shop and expanded into Modesto, Stockton and Fresno under the name San Francisco Floral. Fresno is the only one left.

Today, Andy Azzaro and his father, Bob, run the business. An uncle is retired from the business and Andy's kids can often be found helping out.

After decades on what is now Fulton Street, the business consolidated into its longtime Tulare Avenue distribution center and warehouse, where it now also has a shop.

The new store in Pavilion West has an Italian theme and old pictures of its founders and the business' early days. A 7-foot tall fountain in the middle of the store blooms with plants and flowers. There are buckets of fresh flowers like the old flower shops used to have, different from the gift shop-style stores today with the flowers stored away in coolers, Andy Azzaro said.

"We want people to be able to come in and see the flowers, smell the flowers, touch the flowers," he said. "That's the classy way of doing things. We're trying to bring that back."

Details: www.SanFranciscoFloral.net or (559) 268-0111.

Remodeled Rite Aid

Rite Aid has converted its pharmacy at Shields and Brawley avenues in northwest Fresno into the company's new format of a Rite Aid Wellness Store.

The store at 3795 W. Shields Ave. had a grand re-opening on Saturday with a health-screening event for customers.

The "wellness store" concept includes wider aisles and lower shelves for customers to move through the stores more easily; consultation rooms to talk with a pharmacist about medications; selections of gluten-free and organic foods and beverages; and a staff that includes "wellness ambassadors" to help customers find products and offer information about medications, vitamins and supplements.

Rite Aid has more than 4,600 stores across the U.S., including 10 in the Fresno-Clovis area.

Phone growth

US Prepaid Wireless, an authorized MetroPCS dealer, has launched 10 new retail stores in Fresno. The MetroPCS authorized dealer locations opened this summer and include stores at 2601 E. Ashlan Ave., 4271 N. First St. and 367 W. Shaw Ave.

MetroPCS provides unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data service with no annual contract. The company's prices start at $40 a month.

Company officials say its Fresno customers will also benefit from the recent merger between MetroPCS and nationwide provider T-Mobile USA. Users can choose from a wide selection of handsets offered by MetroPCS and T-Mobile, including the Samsung Galaxy s3.

Bethany Clough, Tim Sheehan and Robert Rodriguez contributed to this report. It was compiled by Clough. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter.

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