Hart Floral
Modesto, CA

Meet Chris from
Hart Floral

Meet Chris of
   Hart Floral
We’re here in Modesto, CA with Chris, owner of Hart Floral.  So, Chris, how did you get into the floral business?
   “I grew up in the business.  I started delivering for the shop when I was 16.  I went to Ceres High, and after school I’d come down and deliver flowers.  My father started working for Mr. Hart back in the 40’s.  Later my dad went off on his own to Pacific Grove and opened up a shop there for a couple years, and then came back to Modesto and took over Hart Floral.
   “We’re a fixture here in Modesto.  We’ve been here since the early 40’s-a lot of people know us by name.  We moved here back in 2000 from across the street, from what is now Walgreens’ parking lot. 
   “I love all aspects of flowers.  I do everything from design to delivering.  I’ve even tried my hand at growing flowers.  I was learning more as a hobby.  I grew sunflowers, statice, euonymus, and eucalyptus.  I like to use what is growing and what is in season.  Even the shop’s landscaping is all purposed so that we can use it in the store.
  “We are a good sized shop.  [It’s huge!]
We used to be accross the street in what is now the Walgreens’ parking lot.  The shop is completely customized for running a flower shop.  We’ve turned what were previously bay doors into bay windows. There are two huge flower boxes, one for everyday use, and the other for the holidays and big weddings.  The entire front of the store is windows which gives us incredible lighting to display our extensive line of plants, as well as our many gift lines, all in beautiful vignettes.  We had an artist do a huge mural of a vineyard-it covers an entire wall.  We create an inviting atmosphere that is really special.”

 So, Chris, what are your suggestions for buying flowers for romance?

 “Flowers for romance are an easy gift. It means a lot, and it shows a lot of passion.  I remember the time we had a display featuring a heart shaped balloon.  It was 12 feet tall and there was a guy who just had to have it.  So we tied it to the top of his Volkswagen.
   “I recommend leaving the choice of flowers up to the designers, because they know what’s in season, what’s fresh.  It also doesn’t restrain them and allows them to work their magic.  We do a lot of custom work: team logos, guitars, a dump truck, etc.  We do weddings.  During the summer we usually have one wedding a week.  We have a customer who has frequent tea parties, and she has miniature arrangements in tiny tea cups.  For anniversaries, people like to recreate the flowers that were in their bridal bouquet to use as centerpieces. We get calls every day for birthdays; everybody likes to get stuff at the office.
   “I love the creative aspect of this business, and the happiness on people’s faces when they receive flowers.  Flowers shouldn’t just be for special occasions but for every day.”
A History of Hart Floral
Hart Floral had its beginning in 1943 at the home of Al Hart on Hackberry Ave. Al operated a taxi & ambulance service in addition to his flower shop.  In the early 40’s Howard Downing lived down the street from Al’s home.  He started working there as an ambulance attendant and in the flower shop.  Hart then bought out Art Coudrey’s Flower Shop, located in the back of the old Hires Root Beer Fountain at 12th & I street across from the Post Office.     
 In the mid 40’s, after two years of naval duty, Al Hart moved Hart Floral to the old Stanislaus Title Building in back of Bank of America at 10th & I St.  Howard returned to Hart Floral and met Wilma; they were married a year later.  They moved to Pacific Grove, where Howard and Wilma opened a flower shop called Flowers by Howard.  After a few years they returned to Modesto to work for the Harts, who by that time had moved to the Seeley Building at 926 12th St.  Al Hart passed away in 1950, and the Downing’s bought the store in 1954.     
  In 1956 the flower shop was destroyed by a fire five days before Christmas. Thanks to their friend and fellow florist, Louie Hammer, they were able to operate out of the back of his store for a few days until they found temporary quarters.  They eventually moved back to a much smaller building in the Seeley Tower.
 In 1971 they had the opportunity to move to 1139 McHenry Ave., where there was an empty fast food building called Booby’s (yes, that was its real name).  The building had to be gutted and remodeled.  They decided to keep the drive-in window and changed the name to Hart Floral Drive-In-Florist.    
  In 2000 Hart Floral took advantage of an opportunity to move across the street to the North West corner of Mchenry & Roseburg.  This move doubled the size of the shop’s show room, design area, and parking.  The shop was, however, missing a drive up window.

   In 2003 Hart Floral received a plaque from the Chairman of FTD and Merlin Olsen former National Football League player and actor, for 50 years of consistent and meritorious service.
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