WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – This Valentine’s Day, a long-time local florist shop delivered some of its last bouquets.
After more than half a century serving West Seneca and beyond, RJ Bengert Florist is closing up shop. At the end of the month, the beloved flower shop will close for good.
“I think it’s just time, and customs are changing, people are changing,” said owner Joann Bengert. “But we have had the nicest, nicest people that have come through these doors.”
Some of those people can be seen in photos on the walls of the little flower shop on French Road: A family who needed help with a funeral, a young girl – now grown – who got her communion flowers at Bengert, and of course Joann’s own kids and grandchildren who needed flowers for holidays, proms, weddings, and more.
Todd Bengert, son of Joann and his late father Robert Bengert, grew up in the shop.
“We would have a lot of fun back here. Learned all kinds of creatives designs, and through the years, I also helped out with the business wherever I could,” Todd said.
Todd said starting the process of cleaning up the building has been an experience. He calls the shop a treasure trove, filled with time pieces that illustrate the many decades of business, like paperclips from the 1960s and a yellowed edition of the Buffalo Evening News from more than 50 years ago.
Joann Bengert’s in-law bought the adjacent greenhouses in the 1940s.
Her husband, Robert, got into the floral and design side of things.
Later on, Robert was drafted into the service and moved away.
“When we came back, they had the flower shop built, and that was in 1960. He ran the flower shop until ’66 when we took over, and he ran it ever since,” Joann said.
Robert, who was also a firefighter, passed away last May. It’s been a lot of work for Joann to keep up with since then, but her returning customers have made it all worth it.
“All the people that have been here through the years, we love you,” Joann said.