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Federico's Family Florist 

click to enlarge Kenny Thone, Larry Federico and shop dog Romeo oversee the family business.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Kenny Thone, Larry Federico and shop dog Romeo oversee the family business.

Twenty years is a generation, and Federico's Family Florist (815 Focis St., Metairie, 837-6400) has spent the last two generations providing the New Orleans area with personalized flower arrangements.

  "We're now doing weddings for people [for whom] we did their parents' weddings," says co-owner Kenny Thone. "[For others], we did the flowers when they were born, and now we're doing their wedding flowers."

  The family-run business, supervised by an omnipresent poodle named Romeo, has flourished since 1976 thanks to its relationship with the community and dedication to low costs. At the store, customers can pick out a bouquet of fresh roses for $6.50. Each arrangement is designed individually according to the customer's budget.

  "We try to keep everything affordable," Thone says. "If you came in here and told me you had X amount of dollars, we would make it special for you for X amount of dollars. We go out of our way to do that for people."

  The storage cooler reveals more extravagant arrangements: stargazer lilies, hydrangeas and birds of paradise co-exist in bunches or eye-catching baskets ready to be picked up or delivered. Owner and lifelong floral designer Larry Federico is the master behind these living works of art. He turns boxes of Ecuadorian roses and solidagos into bridal bouquets and arrangements that seem to spring from mantelpieces and church pews.

  A book of snapshots of past orders reveals the breadth of Federico's work. One society wedding at the Roosevelt Hotel required more than 400 roses for each centerpiece. Other pieces include mixed media like Swarovski crystal and flowers. The shop does annual work for Endymion and other Mardi Gras krewes. Such scenarios are all-hands-on-deck situations, when Thone calls in family and friends to help make deliveries.

  The company's funeral arrangements reveal unique and personal touches. One arrangement formed flowers into a stand bearing the LSU logo, while a modern display of phalaenopsis orchids offered grace notes to a ceremony for a longtime client.

  The most significant change at Federico's over the decades has been its location. Its first storefront and offices were in Lakeview, but after a massive remodeling project, the company's space took on 9 feet of water when the levees failed in 2005. A client offered them their present space, which, along with long-standing ties to vendors, allowed them to reopen in November of 2005.

  Federico's involves itself in community activities, participating in local charity events for Crimestoppers and the annual Audubon Zoo-to-Do. Thone says this community work and his clients are the best parts of the job.

  "I like my job because I get to mingle with the people on a daily basis, through good and bad, through happy and sad," Thone says. "Getting to work with the people [is] what makes it nice."

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