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Federico's Family Florist 

Two days after a hectic Valentine's Day ("We completely sold out of flowers," says co-owner Kenny Thone), Federico's Family Florist (815 Focis St., Metairie, 837-6400) slowly refilled its stock of orchids, roses, tulips, alstroemeria and other blooming tokens of affection. Even in the wake of what is perhaps the most flower-centric of all holidays, customers trickled steadily through the 3,000-square-foot warehouse, buying cash-and-carry roses by the dozen or ordering arrangements for a never-ending procession of birthdays, weddings, funerals and Carnival balls.

  "What color does she like? Pink?" floral designer Steve Lonero asked a gray-haired couple who had come to order flowers for their granddaughter's dance recital. "We can wrap them up with a bow."

  Since 1976, Federico's has kept New Orleans in bloom. The full-service florist supplies custom arrangements starting at $40, as well as bulk flowers and deals like a dozen roses for $6.50. Federico's is consistently voted among New Orleans' top florists by Gambit readers in the annual Best of New Orleans poll. Thone believes affordable prices are one reason many customers have stuck with the shop for decades.

  "We have customers who have been here since day one," Thone says. "We would rather sell in bulk and make customers happy than charge outrageous prices."

  Lonero says his favorite part of the job is making customers feel good, and delivery driver Erni Godfrey agrees. "I love my job. When I see the smile that the delivery puts on people's faces, that is what makes my day," she says.

  Business isn't all sunshine and roses, even for florists, however. Often, penitent husbands and boyfriends come to the shop seeking assistance from the pros. "A lot of guys get in the doghouse, and we help them out," Thone says. "If his wife or girlfriend likes roses, we'll send those. If she likes lilies, we'll send lilies. And if that doesn't work, we send him to the jewelry store, because he's in trouble."

Federico's Family Florist co-owner Kenny Thone (left) and floral designer Steve Lonero show off a bumper crop of tulips.

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