Norberto Najera

By Claudie Benjamin

More than 50 years ago, Constantin Bazas was promoting beauty in apartments of the Upper West Side with his sales of flowers to local customers. He sold these roses and other flowers from a pushcart in front of Beresford at 211 Central Park West and he used a storefront at 447 Columbus Avenue as a storage space for his flowers and supplies. “Then, 52 years ago,” his son Nick says, “We decided to turn the store room into a shop.”

Nick still works in the store 7-days a week as does his son, Constantin, who is named for his grandfather, who worked at the stop until he passed away in 2015.  Today, a key member of this team is Norberto Najera who is an all-around assistant.  Norberto arrived at age 17 in New York in 1997 from his hometown Acapulco, Mexico. On arriving in the city, he spoke no English and knew nothing about flowers.  But, starting on West 50th Street he went from shop to shop asking for a job until he found one at a flower shop on Broadway and 86th Street. Fourteen years later, the store closed and Najera went on to work at a flower shop on Amsterdam Avenue before coming to Q Florist four years ago.

By this time the shop was long established as a prime spot for high quality, breathtaking florals and plants.  The responsibilities of the Q Florist team overlap but it seems that Nick does most of the back office management, advising on plant care and purchasing the beautifully colored hybrid roses, calla lilies, or orchids and dozens of other blooms from the West 28th Street flower wholesalers.

Nick Bazas, Constantin Bazas and Norberto Najera

Constantin is largely responsible for the look of the stop inside and out which results in purchasing anything from a bunch of roses, to a gardenia plant or an armful of forsythia  branches to a fig tree irresistible.  Najera seems to have endless patience and enthusiasm for interacting with customers.  He says you have to be happy in your job to stay and it’s clear that working in this shop suits him well. His favorite flower?  “I have no favorites,” he laughed.  

Pressed on the same question Constantin, Constantin singles out “peonies”.  Now, they are still buds, but they will soon open out to their full pink lushness.  Did you always think you would work here? “I was sort of born into it,” he says.

One unusual contribution Q Florist has made to the neighborhood spirit is a large permanent street display featuring a bear, which is decked with changing decorations to reflect seasons and holidays. It’s hard not to smile as you pass by.

The pandemic period has slowed business somewhat, Nick says there have been fewer orders from restaurants and arrangements designed for private parties and bouquets assembled for weddings.  In early spring, the cooler is filled with a splendid variety of roses and other flowers and cartons are being delivered with delicate about-to-bloom branches. It feels like spring flowers will make everything just a bit better and more beautiful.
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