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June 14, 2024
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Iconic Santa Cruz florist expands into East Lake Village

WATSONVILLE—On Dec. 1, the East Lake Shopping Center in Watsonville welcomed its newest addition. Ferrari Florist, located at 928 East Lake Ave., is now the third store for the 74-year-old business in Santa Cruz County. 

Five years ago, Brian and Marilyn Piazza noticed that a florist business had gone up for sale in Santa Cruz. They looked into it, and were shocked to see it was Ferrari, which had arranged the flowers for their own wedding 34 years ago.

“Our jaws dropped,” Brian Piazza said. “We thought, ‘What a cool connection.’” 

The Piazzas learned that the owner had fallen ill and was about to close the well-known shop, now located at 345 Soquel Ave. So they bought it.

“We saw it as an opportunity for us but also as a way to save an iconic Santa Cruz business,” Brian Piazza said.

Not long after, the Ow family asked the couple if they wanted to expand into the King’s Village Shopping Center in Scotts Valley. At first, they weren’t sure about expanding so soon after buying the original store.

It was Chris Ow, who died in November in a motorcycle crash, who encouraged them to come to King’s Village. Brian Piazza gave his condolences and lauded Ow as the reason they went through with the expansion.

“Chris is why we are there, to be honest,” he said, “We owe so much to him.”

Prior to expanding to Scotts Valley, the Piazzas were looking to Watsonville, where they had lived for many years and raised their children. Their friends, Coffeeville owners Mike Goble and Kendra McQueen, encouraged them to look into the space next door to them at East Lake Village Shopping Center.

“When they moved from Santa Cruz, I kept coming down here to get coffee,” Brian Piazza said. “And they kept saying, ‘You guys need to open a store here.’”

Brian Piazza said that so far the community has been “super receptive” and business has been doing well. The holiday season was abuzz with activity. In addition to their year-round array of high-end arrangements, they also sold poinsettias, wreaths, mini Christmas tree displays and other holiday-themed centerpieces.

“We had always wanted to come to Watsonville, even before [Scotts Valley],” he said. “We are really excited to be here.”

He added that one benefit of the new South County location is that they can now deliver products to other areas such as Aromas, Royal Oaks, Moss Landing, Monterey and Pajaro Dunes, and parts of Castroville and West Prunedale.

One distinction of Ferrari Florist is that the majority of what they sell is locally-grown. Brian Piazza said that 85% of their products are sourced from companies in the Pajaro Valley. This almost guarantees freshness—for example, their lilies are usually cut the day before, as opposed to being cut two weeks before and shipped.

They also want to support local flower growers, who are at a disadvantage due to offshore production, as well as the ever-growing amount of greenhouses now being used to grow cannabis. 

“We’re trying to motivate local growers to keep growing,” Piazza said. “We want to help save this industry.”

Ferrari Florist also aims to be “environmentally sensitive.” They’ve worked with organizations to create garden arrangements that attract butterflies, honeybees and other pollinators. A portion of the proceeds benefit their Save Our Monarchs and Pollinator Partnership groups.

Looking ahead, the Piazzas are eager to serve Watsonville and give shoppers a unique option when looking for flowers and arrangements. 

“So many people have come in and say they are ecstatic to have something new and different,” Brian Piazza said. “We’re excited, too.”

Ferrari Florist’s Watsonville location is currently open Monday-Thursday 8:30am-3pm and Friday 8:30am-5pm. For information visit shopferrariflorist.com.

Johanna Miller
Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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