As temperatures and COVID numbers keep falling, families across the valley look forward to enjoying every minute of the 2021 holiday season. But sometimes hardship and tragedy can make the holidays a desperate time. In 1984, after tragedy struck for Vasi Sergakis, the minutes couldn’t move fast enough. Earlier that year, her husband Mike passed away, making her sole owner of The Art Floral. Despite being a part of the family business, Vasi focused on running the family while Mike ran the business he started in 1951.
In July 1984, as the calendar started its downhill slide to December, Vasi Sergakis started the uphill climb as a single parent and the sole breadwinner. At the time, she was still speaking broken English. Then the Great October snowstorm came, covering the city with a record amount of snow. Financially, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas wouldn’t make it.
“The end of summer and beginning of fall are a slower time in the flower business and everyone ramps up for the holidays,” explains Vasi’s daughter and current owner, Stefanie Sergakis Wedemeyer. “Those first few months were a blur for my mom, so the holidays took her by surprise just like that October storm did to the city.”
The Art Floral did survive that Christmas, as well as every one since, but they didn’t do it alone.
“I think my mom took what she knew, which was running a Greek family, and applied that to the business,” Wedemeyer said. Vasi applied her baking skills to demonstrate customer appreciation. She made platters of homemade Greek pastries to offer customers along with their holiday flower orders. Decorative wreaths began adorning family headstones in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Poinsettias were hand-picked with certain families in mind. All under a mother’s watchful eye.
These traditions continue to survive and thrive because of The Art Floral’s commitment to family and loyalty to community.
“If you’re a member of the family you support the business, and if you support the business you’re a member of the family,” says Wedemeyer, whose watchful eye has overseen expanded holiday traditions that include all of their staff volunteering at church and community events. The holidays are happy thanks to Stef’s workshop of four full-time staff members, three tiny dogs, two teenage kids, and a Partridge Family-sized flock of chickens.
The Art Floral is located at 580 E 300 S in Salt Lake City theartfloral.com, 801-363-0565.
Holiday orders will be accepted through December 23, 2021.
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