Farewell, Fortino of Fayetteville

It was a hard decision to make for owner Al Fortino, but after 53 great years in the floral business, Fortino said he's ready for retirement. Fortino of Fayetteville, a community cornerstone located at Limestone Plaza, will close shop officially Sept. 7.

"Several people have stopped in and they're very sad we're leaving," he said. "They've expressed their regret for our closing."

Fortino, who enjoyed a profitable year despite the recent economic downturn, also had mixed feelings about shutting its doors.

"This is a highly emotional business," he said, acknowledging he'll miss his customers more than anything. "I'm there when the babies are born. I'm there for their first day of kindergarten. I'm there when they go to high school. I'm there when they have loss. I'm there when they have a wedding. I'm there when they have a Bar Mitzvah. It's a full caveat of emotions. You get to know your customers and their families."

In fact, Fortino, clearly touched by the sentiment, said in the last couple years the business began picking up second generation customers: "We've had couples come in and say, 'you did my mother and father's wedding. I want you to do mine.'"

So what's next?

An artist at heart, Fortino said he would probably take some classes and continue to dabble in oil painting, a longtime hobby of his.

In the meantime, a closing sale begins Sept. 3 at the site of the former Make and Take Gourmet at Towne Center in Fayetteville. Fixtures, accessories and vases will be available for purchase.

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