A 90-year old Buffalo businesswoman is putting aside her floristry tools for the first time in more than five decades. WBFO's Eileen Buckley met with the founder and owner of The Floristry inside her Delaware Avenue store as gets ready to retire.
How has Fann Markel, 90, been able to operate her business this long?
"Because I'm a stubborn, old lady." Markel responded.
As soon as you meet Fann Markel you realize she is in charge, making her a successful businesswoman for the last 55 years in Buffalo.
"Well I'm very sad about retiring, but I think there is a time in everyone’s life where they just say, that's it," said Markel.
Markel uses a cane to steady herself as she navigates through the many rooms of her Delaware Avenue shop. But she does it all in style – her silver hair, in a blunt cut, is held back in a red bandana headband. She tells us she recalls as a young woman attending Cornell and then getting married. She entertained often in her home holding dinner partners.
“I always did the flowers and a friend called me and said, ‘I can’t find anyone that does flowers like you do, will you do them for my party’. I said I don’t do that, so she insisted I did it and that was beginning of the end,” Markel recalled.
But Markel's business is more than just flowers, as she has shown over the years at her Delaware location near Gates Circle. Markel added more rooms and filled them with accessories and decorations, including antiques, lamps, vases, furniture and candle holders.
“Well I always thought accessories go with flowers. Sometimes they’ll buy a table to put the flowers on,” Markel explained.
Markel’s floristry skills, style and elegance attracted so many of her customers through the years, creating repeat business. She has served families for many generations through happy and sad life events.
“Florists kind of become almost like a family member to people?” asked Buckley. “Well you should be a family member because price is not always the issue – no matter what someone can afford – if it’s a wedding, an engagement, a birth or a funeral, you have to be with the family – it’s an event in their lives and you can’t make it difficult or hard for them,” Markel responded.
Most notable, Market did the flowers for a celebrity. After meeting actress and wildlife activist Stefanie Powers, she asked Market to do the flowers for her second wedding in 1993 held in Kenya.
“How did you end up doing Stefanie Powers wedding?” questioned Buckley. “I met her in Palm Beach, because we did a lot of work in Palm Beach – a lot of parties – and I met her there and we immediately became friends. And it was quite a wedding. The guests all sat in tents,” Market remembered.
Markel said she has remain in good health, but works six days a week and has decided to close up The Floristry.
“I just decided that I wanted to spend some time – maybe starting to play golf again, paint and being with my five children,” Markel remarked. “I always said, I grew up in a time when Buffalo was just starting to go down, if I can use that expression and I always said I want to live long enough to see Buffalo come back, and I did, and this makes me very happy because a better city you will never find.”
Markel's shop was buzzing with business during our visit as she completes requests and begins selling off items to liquidate her business. She has a true passion for her business, compassion for customers as she serves them with a floral heart.
“The hardest part is driving past this building and looking at it,” noted Markel.