SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 10: 15 Years of Passion

Shabbir, Small Business Owner: Canoga Park Florist

Sunday afternoon, my day for spiritual worship and family time. I’m sure many of us covet this day to refill our wells for the week to come. 10 days into 365 and Sundays are already becoming the hardest day to get my butt moving. But two things I learned from my father move me forward: First, “there is only one way to do things, in whatever you do, be certain to do it right and finish it.” and secondly; as many brits would state, “keep a stiff upper lip.”

So with full commitment to see 365 to the end, a smile on my face, and a very supportive daughter in hand, I grab my gear for a Sunday stroll around the neighborhood. Sherman Way watch out, here I come for day two of exploration.

We walk for a few blocks. Noting shops unfamiliar to us and a few we have frequented from time to time. As we browse, looking through locked storefront after storefront, most closed for Sunday rest. I realize 365 is changing my perspective of how I am looking at the rows of small businesses. Being a small business owner myself and knowing how important it is to retain a customer base, I’ve always done my best to regularly patronize my fellow entrepreneur. But this new feeling is deeper than that. Something is brewing in my gut.

I pause for reflection, a different type of empathy is grabbing hold of me. My desire to connect at a deeper level to these neighborhood co-business owners is becoming much greater. Nine day’s of meeting strangers is starting to change me, and I think it is for the better.

Canoga Camera – Closed, (best ink price in town), Caveretti’s (old school Italian Deli) – Open (of course, it’s a restaurant), The Boxing Gym – Closed, 5 or six other closed stores, and then, prepared to look through yet another closed window, Canoga Park Florist – Open with one customer entering just behind us. Now for as long as I’ve lived in my house, 9 years to be exact, never has this store been open on a Sunday. My curiosity takes hold and through the door we go.

We are greeted by shop owner, Shabbir, who is sitting at a display checking his text messages. [4:45]sh, store closing at 5:00pm. I tell him of what I am doing and he buy’s in. He graciously give’s me almost an hour, way past closing time.

I find him to be very honorable and kind, even gives my 8-year-old girl a stuffed toy.

I could write a book about our chat, but I’ll keep it short we have many more days ahead of us. So stay with me, the journey is just starting and I have no idea of where we will be going.

That said, let me give you the short rundown of our conversation and some thing I did not know:
• Shabbir loves working with all kinds of different people, bad day pick-me-up to hospital gifts, anniversaries to weddings, birthdays to graduations, mothers day to valentines day, all have their respective flowers. But to Shabbir it’s more than just pre-arranged product, it’s pride in knowing exactly what flowers to choose for every customer he meets.
• Gladiolas, Lilies and Gerreras. Until now I thought only Roses were the most beautiful flower for arrangements.
• Yelp really does work.
• He loves being a Florist and sees doing nothing other than that for the rest of his life.
• His philosophies: Knowing your customers heart makes you a better business person.
• Whatever you promote – you deliver.
• His Dream… To pilot a plane, life is just too busy right now.

I promise. my intent is to not create an eCom referral blog roll. But after spending a bit of time chatting with Shabbir, I felt a connection in giving him a plug. I know, recession has hit everyone hard. Yet after getting to know Shabbir, introducing him to my daughter and seeing photos of his 12 and 8-year-old girls, I am prompted to throw a Canoga Park Florist link. Shabbir has managed to weather the storm economic downturn with his commitment to complete customer satisfaction, backed by his 15 years of passion for what he does. If you find yourself in need of quality and individualized floral service, check him out. And now he is even open on Sundays. Oops! I forgot to ask him when he rests.

9:00pm, quitting time. Talk tomorrow!!