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Owners help florist shop bloom where it was planted

When the business opened 35 years ago, it was surrounded by citrus groves. Friends told owner Chuck Burnett he was crazy to open a flower business in a place as remote as Seminole.

"I was the only business on Seminole Boulevard for about seven years," he said. "But I was equidistant from Clearwater and St. Petersburg and could work both communities."

But a lot has changed since 1971, when Burnett moved into the current building at 8613 Seminole Blvd. Seminole grew, the business, Seminole Florist, flourished, and it is still in the same place, though on its third owner.

Pete Bengston and his wife, Faye, bought the business seven years ago.

Bengston has lived in Pinellas County most of his life. He graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1953 and worked a few years for the FBI in Washington, D.C., before returning here in 1958, he said.

After 30 years of working for General Electric, Bengston started looking for something else to do. A few days of scouting Seminole Florist provided the answer.

"We saw the potential and wanted to build it up again," Bengston said. "We went to an FTD school in Kauai, Hawaii, to learn the business of running a florist."

Fay Bengston is the chief buyer and designer. Bengston describes his job as "flunky and gofer."

The Bengstons said they've had some good laughs along with the hard work. Like the time a bride-to-be came in and ordered flowers for her wedding . . . the flowers couldn't clash with her red hair.

"It was to be a small wedding," Bengston recalled, "and when the groom came in to pick up the flowers, he couldn't remember his bride's name. We had three weddings that day and had to figure out which one he was with _ he had forgotten the sales slip, of course. He was just a little nervous."

New Business

Marti Deaver has opened Affiliates Title Services at 9406 Seminole Blvd. She is president of the company and has 24 years of experience in title insurance work. A Florida native, she has lived in the Seminole area for 15 years.

Real Estate

Karen Camuti has joined Century 21 Grant Realty at 6450 Seminole Blvd. as a sales associate. She has worked seven years in real estate and is a relocation representative for Continental Airlines.

Gregg Siebert has joined ERA Security Realty at 9780 Seminole Blvd. as a sales associate. He has worked for 13 years in real estate in Pinellas County and is a multimillion-dollar producer.

Know of a new or unique business in the greater Seminole area? If so, tell us about it. Send items to Seminole Business, Largo-Seminole Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 34616, or fax it to 445-4119. We also are interested in promotions, expansions, major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.