Warren's Florist Gift Baskets and Novelties

Owner Warren McCluney has moved to a location on NW 5th Avenue

Warren McCluney, owner of Warren's Florist Gift Baskets and Novleties, inside his shop, which is now located in the historic NW 5th Avenue area.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.

Warren McCluney believes floral arrangements, especially those for funerals and other occasions, should say something about a person.

And with that in mind, McCluney, owner of Warren's Florist Gift Baskets and Novelties at 818 NW 5th Ave., said he spends time talking with his customers to find out something about the person who will be on the receiving end of his floral arrangements and gift baskets.

"I specialize in real and silk flowers, but my passion is for sympathy flowers because I like for my casket sprays and floral arrangements to end up expressing who the person was and what they enjoyed doing," said McCluney, who started his business two years ago out of his home in the Cedar Grove II subdivision.

In February, the business moved to the historic 5th Avenue neighborhood.

In addition to funerals, McCluney does floral arrangements for banquets, corporate events, dinner parties, weddings and most other special occasions. However, he emphasized his love for making floral arrangements for funerals.

He said his arrangements can reflect a person's profession, no matter if they were a carpenter or a beautician.

"I can add stuff to the floral arrangement that portrays what the person did for a living," he said.

McCluney graduated in 2009 from the South Florida School of Floral Design in Lake Worth and received informal training for many years from the late Edgar Washington. Washington, who died in 2011, was the owner and operator of Art-N-Flowers for almost 40 years on NW 5th Avenue, a stone's throw away from where McCluney's business is located.

"I started hanging out at Edgar's shop in 1978, and when he got ready to do something real special and really good, he would call me and say, ‘Warren, you better get down here because I'm about to walk the dog,'" said McCluney, adding that the phrase "walk the dog" is used to describe something extraordinary. "When I would get there, things would just be fantastic, and I was always amazed at the things he did with flowers."

McCluney said he is inspired by the legacies of Washington, and his own brother, the late Howard McCluney, who, for many years, owned and operated McCluney's Orthopedic and Prosthetic Services until his death in 2009.

He said both were successful businessmen who taught him a lot about being a business owner.

McCluney, who works full time as a social worker, said his passion for flowers keeps what he does as a florist from feeling like work.

He especially enjoys the relationships he builds with customers. One of those customers, Liz Williams of southeast Gainesville, said McCluney's genuine love for what he does shows in his work.

"He has done gift baskets and regular home flowers for me and he is always so nice and kind with letting me know just what kind of flowers I will need for whatever the occasion is," Williams said. "He treats me just like I am a family member and he doesn't want to do anything that does not please his customers."

McCluney said business is going well and he believes it is only going to get better now that it is located on historic 5th Avenue, which was the center of the black business community in Gainesville for many years.

His business is located between Safety Cab Co. and Sanitary Barber Shop, and the owners of the businesses, Nat Turner and Tim Norman, respectively, have welcomed him with open arms.

"Fifth Avenue has always been the place the community has gone to for floral services, because of Edgar," McCluney said. "I just want to keep up that tradition and I'm extremely happy to be located between two businesses that have been on the avenue for a long time."

Hours of operation are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 352-215-1577.

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