By Rae Wee
In a shop filled with baby pink tulle dresses and heart shaped balloons stands a stocky 5-foot-4-inch man, carefully cutting the stems of roses and arranging them neatly in vases.
This is just part of the daily routine of 53-year-old Felix Montero, owner of Oscar’s Flowers & Gift Shop — the only shop in Mount Rainier to offer party and wedding planning services.
Montero opened his shop in 2001 for two reasons, to be his own boss and to follow in his family’s footsteps.
“I don’t want to work for nobody, I don’t like somebody telling me what to do,” he said.
Back in his hometown in Puebla, Mexico, Montero’s family owns a similar shop, which is what exposed him to flower arrangement and made him able to identify the different types of flowers from a young age.
Montero, who works seven days a week, spends his days surrounded by women — one of whom is his wife. He is mainly in charge of taking orders, arranging flowers and organizing the events, while the women handle the dresses and tailoring needs.
But to him, being the only male in the shop is nothing out of the ordinary.
“It’s not weird, you need a man. If there’s something heavy [to carry], I do it. Arranging flowers is tiring. You need someone strong — one man, for doing all these. It’s normal,” Montero said.
His shop in its 17th year of operation, working with flowers every day has become second nature to Montero. They no longer embody the same significance to him as they would, as gifts, to others.
Rather, it is the inner romantic in Montero that fuels his passion for his work.
“[Flowers] represent love, it makes everybody happy. When people buy flowers for others, I like to see that,” he said.
Among his customers, Montero’s shop is a popular hit, namely due to their reasonable prices and welcoming persona.
“They’re very warming, and definitely like a family,” Nayeli Mendoza, 27, who has been a customer with the shop for more than 10 years, said. “He [Montero] is very humble and always willing to help.”
As a boss, he is also known to be very caring and generous to his workers.
Alma Beltran, 42, who has been working at the shop as an assistant for eight years, said Montero is never demanding and always empathizes with his workers.
“He’s the best, he’s very good. I have a kid, so sometimes if he is sick and I cannot go to work, he will just say ‘yes, it’s okay, don’t worry,’ ” she said.
However, to a new customer, Montero may not come across as the most friendly shop owner on first impression.
When interacting with others, he normally maintains a stern face and rarely smiles. Additionally, the father of three has a loud and hoarse voice when he speaks.
But beneath all that, Montero’s 8-year-old daughter, Ivonne Morales, said her father is really just a soft-hearted individual.
“He always buys things for me and takes care of me. Sometimes he’s funny,” she said. “Once, my mom was sleeping and we were going to come back here to work, but she didn’t want to get out of bed. So he grabbed her leg and shook her out of bed and I started to laugh.”
“I think he’s just shy in front of people,” she added.
For a man who spends most of his waking hours dealing with flowers, tuxedos and gowns, one would assume that Montero cares a lot about his appearance.
On the contrary, he claims to be just the opposite.
“I stand behind a counter, people don’t need to see how I look like. It’s the flowers that must look good,” he said.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rae Wee/Bloc Reporter.
Rae Wee is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.