Oakland florist celebrates Valentine’s Day with business anniversary

Mike Saidi is the owner of Helen's Flower Shop. This Valentine's Day, the shop, established first in Berkeley, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Photo by Angelica Casas.

Mike Saidi is the owner of Helen's Flower Shop. This Valentine's Day, the shop, established first in Berkeley, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Photo by Angelica Casas.

Mike Saidi has never received flowers from his wife on Valentine’s Day, but he would not mind it if he did. After all, Valentine’s Day is his favorite holiday and flowers are his favorite plants.

“I get very excited about the holiday,” he said. “Every minute of it counts to do things and do it the best way you know it.”

Saidi, originally from Iran, is the owner of Helen’s Flower Shop in Oakland. This Valentine’s Day is his 30th anniversary of being in the flower business. When Saidi arrived in the United States, he had no business background, but he always had a love for plants.

“Since I was a little kid I had my parents buy me plants,” Saidi said. “I planted seeds in the backyard. I could spend time sitting there, staring at them. Even when I go on vacation, I find a flower shop to go look at the flowers. It’s just my nature.”

But Saidi has a background in engineering, and it was hard to convince his parents he wanted to go into flowers. After learning about business from a friend he made here who had a flower shop, Saidi’s determination convinced his parents they could not stop him. Now that he has been in the business for three decades, he would continue selling flowers even if her were a billionaire, he said.

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year for Saibi and other florists. “The demand goes tenfold, at least,” he said. “We’re in the middle of winter so the flowers are not so abundant. Flowers are shipped from Central America, especially Ecuador.”

He also purchases local flowers from California sellers. Saidi doesn’t have a favorite flower; he likes many. Peonies, Tulips and Lisianthus are on the top of the list, though.

“There’s a lot going on in a flower and their petals. Flowers are like laughing people when they blossom,” Saidi said. “When you see people laughing and smiling, it lifts you up. And that’s what the flowers will do – they’re beautiful and happy.”

Despite Valentine’s Day and other holidays not letting him get much sleep, he said that because of his love and interest, flowers energize him, no matter how busy or how hard the work day is.

“It just makes your surrounding more pleasant to live in,” Saidi said, sitting in his living room, which was filled with the flower arrangements he would deliver the next day. “It keeps my heart very enchanted.”

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