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Basta family thanks community for support over nearly a century in business

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EDITOR’S NOTE:The following is a message from Joe and Jane Basta, owners of Basta’s Flower Shop, Ogdensburg, who recently sold their florist, landscaping and greenhouse business on Main Street to United Helpers Mosaic. The Basta family has a long presence in the Ogdensburg community, and wishes to thank their customers and the community for their support over their more than nine decades in business.

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By now most people have heard that after 66 years in the flower and landscape business and 90 years in the greenhouse business, Basta’s has a new owner. On May 7, United Helpers Care purchased the entire operation. They have retained longtime employees Toni Duprey and George Parish, who will work alongside United Helpers Manager Laurie LaFaver to continue running the floral and gift shop.

George will also be in charge of the greenhouse operation. Cathy Amell will continue to propagate, transplant and assist in maintaining the crops. Cathy has developed a following and will be there to assist the loyal customers.

The very experienced and capable landscape crew of Bob Whitcombe, Rob Spears and Andy Ladouceur will continue doing all aspects of the landscaping operation. United Helpers’s Rick Pirie will manage that end of the business.

Jane and I will be very active as consultants for at least one year. United Helpers CEO Steve Knight and Michelle Montroy want the transition to be as seamless as possible. The reputation, customer satisfaction and operating procedures of the whole operation were what attracted United Helpers to consider purchasing Basta’s. Their main goal is to continue running the business as it has been, but want to expand the gift and product lines. They also propose to enhance product and services in the floral business, offering new and additional merchandise and creations for all occasions: births, baptism, proms, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, special events, every day and get well flowers.

I am impressed with what United Helpers brings to the floral business. UH has an up-to-date information technology department, a comprehensive marketing department and a thorough accounting department. They have a vested interest in Ogdensburg and the north country. I believe this to be a win-win situation, and hope that all customers will continue to support them.

Salvatore and Maria Angela Basta and their family immigrated from Calabria, Italy, in 1912. Following the railroad, they made their way to Northern New York, settling in Hermon. In the very early 1920s they moved to Ogdensburg, where Salvatore worked at the local paper mill. He built two greenhouses at the 619 Main St. address, and Maria grew crops for sale and for their large garden, from which she sold much of the crop at her flower and vegetable stand.

Salvatore died in 1937. Maria continued with the greenhouses. Her son Mike, his wife, Anna Mae, and their five children lived in the house. Mike was employed at Standard Shade Roller for years, but in 1948 he left his secure job and went to New York City to study the floral business. On April 14, 1949, he and Anna Mae started a two-room flower shop at the 619 Main St. residence. As the years went on the business expanded to include the greenhouses and limited landscaping. Many times I would come home for lunch from Holy Cross School and find people at our kitchen table planning events, ordering for special occasions or ordering funeral flowers for a loved one. Those people could never leave without sharing lunch with us.

In 1968 I entered the business. As we all know it’s tough to work with family, but things worked out. Ogdensburg was flourishing then, we were able to expand the floral shop, added temporary greenhouses, and added a nursery.

In 1985 we did major renovations, rebuilt the front of the building, remodeled the basement and the main floor of the flower shop.

In 1997 we purchased the Becker Moore property, a division of International Filler which was adjacent and directly north of the flower shop property. Having the warehouse space allowed us to purchase equipment and further expand the landscape business.

In 1999, with the new available land, we demolished our temporary greenhouses, leveled the land, added electric, gas, water to supply six new greenhouses and a designated sales area with computer and telephone access.

Basta’s has had quite a run in Ogdensburg and it’s due to the help and support of a lot of people.

I wouldn’t have been able to operate Basta’s without the dedication, attention to detail and the education that my grandparents and parents provided and put in the business. I would also need to thank the countless number of employees over the years. I have said this many times: “My employees make me look good.” My thanks to suppliers, local and long distance; it’s hard to make a living without them. Also our friends who were always there when we needed help, and to our LOYAL customers who have been gracious to allow us be part of their lives. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve such a wonderful group of people. You have allowed us to help plan and assist you with all your special times in your lives. Whether it be a happy or sad occasion, you put your faith in us, THANK YOU! I also especially want to thank my siblings; your support has always been appreciated.

To our children, Katie, Michael, Peter and Anna Marie and their families, thanks for your understanding and support. You don’t know how much that meant to your mother and I.

For Jane, you have been there almost as much as I have, your support and hard work has been above and beyond. The silver lining is that we now can devote our time to what we want.

Jane and I would also like to thank the countless number of friends, customers and acquaintances that have sent cards, called or stopped us on the street with well wishes. We really appreciated it.

If I forgot someone, I’m sorry. Please let me know.

Thanks again.

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