Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Sacramento’s G. Rossi Florist to open in new location Nov. 1

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

The owners of G. Rossi Florist, Jerry and Michele Porter, said they will be relocating their business to the space long occupied by Procida Florist in downtown Sacramento. They will open at 1208 J St. on Nov. 1.

Michele Porter said they have outgrown their current space at 1011 Seventh St., next to Merchants National Bank. They have been there since acquiring the business in 2000.

G. Rossi has had many homes since opening its doors in downtown Sacramento back in 1921. The business was originally founded by brothers Giovanni, Michael and Nathan Rossi at 921 K St. At one time, they also had floral shops in San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno and Reno.

The Rossis sold the business decades ago, and it changed hands many times before the Porters bought it.

“I was in the mortgage business back then, but I had a floral-design business at the same time,” said Michele Porter. “The mortgage business is so volatile. It had taken another dive, and I looked in the newspaper and G. Rossi was for sale. It all came together.”

Michele Porter liked the idea of having her own flower shop. She had worked at the former Four Seasons nursery and floral shop on Fair Oaks while she was a student at American River College. Jerry Porter left a job in the construction industry to partner with his wife, and when their daughters, Bethany and Ellé Porter, were teenagers, the couple also drafted them to pitch in at the family business.

There was a time when people could only get fresh-cut flowers from a florist or their own garden, Porter said, but now G. Rossi competes with grocers, big-box retailers and home-based businesses. Still, they have found success by stocking something for everyone, she said. They welcome people who want baby’s breath and carnations, in addition to customers who seek high-priced floral arrangements. Weddings and other events make up 30 percent of their business; retail sales, 70 percent.

That mix could change in the new location, Porter said, because the proximity to the Sheraton Grand, the convention center and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament could bring in more walk-in traffic. For that reason, the Porters plan to stock more gift items in their new location, which has nearly twice the space of their current shop. The nice thing, Porter said, is that they don’t have to do much work to get the space ready.

“We don’t have to do any tenant improvement,” she said. “Mr. Procida owned the building, so he designed the flower shop like a dream.”

George Procida opened his flower shop in 1971 and ran it until his death in 2002. His widow, Bonnie Procida, continued operating it until her retirement in 2012.

He’s all about Benjamins

Sacramento shoemaker Benjamin Schwartz and his partners already sell their locally produced footwear online, but they plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in the Warehouse Artist Lofts, 1108 R St., later this month.

“With my generation coming up now, they’re really dictating the direction of menswear, and it’s changing,” said Schwartz, the 30-year-old founder and chief executive of Benjamins Shoe Corp. “There’s really this crossover between fine and tailored menswear and street wear, but there aren’t very many shoe brands that cater to that crossover.”

His first shoe, which retails for $189.99 a pair, takes design elements from hand-sewn, leather moccasins and from the Prince Albert slipper.

It took Schwartz years to get here. He’s always been interested in men’s fashion, and seven years ago, while doing some research on the topic, he ran across a book on shoe-making. He studied it and began experimenting with pattern-making. When he ran into trouble, he visited local shoe-repair shops for guidance. He finished his first pair of shoes in 2009, but they were a far cry from the elegant-looking footwear he sells today.

“Our soles are shipped up from Brazil,” he said. “We make all the uppers of the shoes. ... The current fabric that we use comes from Loro Piana in Italy. I worked with them, and they sent over this Storm System water-repellant cashmere that we use. We stitch everything, design them, make all the patterns and still stitch on the soles here.”

Schwartz handles operations, and he has relied on his partners, attorney Jannik Catalano and budget guru Michael Salazar, to help with getting the company’s structure and books on solid ground. They and their investors have financed the company, Schwartz said. The footwear is sold online at benjamins-shoes.com. Each pair is wrapped in a linen bag and cushioned in a box with shredded, uncirculated U.S. currency.

The new space at the Warehouse Artist Lofts will be part store and part workshop, Schultz said.

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