10 Questions with Schenectady Florist Frank Gallo
When it comes to Valentine’s Day presents, one classic gift stands above all the rest: flowers. And in Schenectady, where better to order a bouquet from than Frank Gallo & Son Florist, the fourth-generation State Street shop that’s been serving the Electric City and beyond since 1920. (It’s only a short drive from Kingsway’s independent living, assisted living, memory care center and our skilled nursing home.) Kingsway caught up with owner Frank Gallo to learn more about his family business’ history, his Super Bowl connections and the Valentine’s Day season.
Tell us a little about the history of Frank Gallo Florist.
The business was started by my great grandparents in 1920 and was carried on by my grandfather and my father. I’ve been in the business since 1985.
Were you always planning to take over the family business?
Quite the contrary. I had no aspirations of going into the flower business. At the time, the business was very “mom and pop,” so I had very little inclination to go into it. I toiled around with a couple other things and eventually decided that growing the flower business might be a good challenge. So that’s where I ended up—in this business but not by design.
How have you grown the business since becoming involved?
Over the last 30 years we’ve gone from a single shop with one or two employees to a multi-store operation. We had seven stores at one point with about 50 employees. We’ve transitioned from multi-store back to one location, but we actually serve a bigger area now than when we had seven stores. Our delivery area spans from Lake George as far south as Valatie and from East Greenbush to Amsterdam, so we have a pretty good footprint of delivery. Today we’re one of the top 100 florists in the country.
Has Frank Gallo always been in the State Street location?
While we’ve only been in this location since 2004, we have been headquartered in Schenectady since the 1920s, in spite of the fact that we’ve had stores in Albany, Clifton Park, Burnt Hills, Saratoga, et cetera.
Who would you say is your typical client?
If I answered that as recently as two or three years ago I would say that my typical client is an older person—maybe 40s or 50s. At this point that is really changing. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen young people engaging in buying flowers for all types of engagements. The majority of our clients are probably 30-65, but a fast-growing segment of my customer base is the 25-35s.
Your website says you’ve provided flowers for the Super Bowl. Tell us about that.
It was 2014—the Broncos and Seahawks at MetLife. Super Bowl XLVIII. Inside any stadium they have luxury suites, so we decorated the commissioner’s suite, we decorated the Giants owner’s suite, and then we decorated the NFL’s reception area with flowers and plants.
How many Valentine’s Day arrangements do you do in a typical year?
On a typical Valentine’s Day, we could go anywhere from 1,000-1,500 units.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day but has no idea what to get?
I would probably go with a dozen red roses, because that is the benchmark of Valentine’s Day. However, I might go as far as to ask the person you’re buying for beforehand what they enjoy, because not everybody’s going to enjoy roses. Somebody might like tulips better, somebody might like lilies, orchids. We take a lot of requests like that and I always say mixed flowers is a good option as well, because it gets you a nice variety of product.
Do you give your wife flowers for Valentine’s Day?
I send a dozen roses to my wife. But I also buy jewelry, because flowers aren’t much of a gift coming from me.
Even though we have become a regional florist in that we enjoy a customer base in seven or eight different counties, we decided to stay and be based in Schenectady because we feel that that’s where our roots are.