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Scarvaci’s Florist Shop: Rooted in Riverwest for Half a Century

Ann Volmer-Goralskiby Mary Wood Ohiku / photo by Tess Reiss

Scarvaci’s Florist and Gift Shop is hardly new to the Riverwest area. The business started back in 1949 and has been in the neighborhood ever since. First owned as a partnership between John Schiller and Mary Mueller-Scarvaci, the business opened its doors at 2669 N. Holton St. Now located at 2663 N. Holton St. and owned by Ann Vollmer-Goralski, Scarvaci’s continues to thrive. It is a full service retail shop which provides plants, balloons, cut flowers, fruit baskets, stuffed animals, greeting cards, and more. It caters to all occasions, including holidays, weddings, and funerals. Although the shop is currently being renovated, it has maintained the same set-up as it had in 1953. Ann, a life-long Riverwest resident, worked in the shop as a young girl. “I went to buy flowers for a sick teacher of mine when they offered me a job,” Ann said. “I started sweeping floors there at 16.” What started out as sweeping, watering, and decorating, spun into business skills and learning the trade. Even when she worked full-time as a medical secretary for podiatrists, Drs. Addis and O’Halloran, she never broke ties with the shop. “On holidays, weekends, and days off, I’d stop in to visit and would always end up working,” Ann said. Then the doctors she was working for moved somewhere else, and Mrs. Scarvaci asked her to return full time. Later when Scarvaci’s husband passed away she offered Ann the business. “I had two choices,” Ann said. “Either I could take over the business or look for a new job.” In January 1983, Ann purchased the business, and Mary Scarvaci moved to Janesville to be closer to her family. She came back during Mother’s Day and other holidays to help out. Numerous residents from the neighborhood contribute to Scarvaci’s success. Janice and Tom Kocinski, Julie and Joe Caban, Lila Blas, Diane Galarza, Pam Hewett, Patrina Hurtado, and many others often lend a hand to keep the business efficient. Ann also receives considerable help and support from her husband William L. Goralski and son Eric. Ann has observed many changes as a Riverwest business-owner over the past 20 years. Scarvaci’s survived the loss of Krueger’s Bakery, Mazur’s Pharmacy, Johnny’s Grocery store, Vetter Hardware, the Ram Diner, and others which were once part of the area’s original business district. “Many business owners retreated or sold, and nobody new has come in to continue the business,” Ann said. Ann, however, is reluctant to throw in the towel and is not quite ready to say she’s had enough of the floral business. “I want to bring something positive to the neighborhood,” Ann said. “It keeps me going.” Scarvaci’s delivers to the city of Milwaukee and county-wide, and even distributes flowers to foreign countries through Teleflora and Florist Transworld Delivery Association wire services. Store hours are: Mon-Fri from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sat from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and extended hours during holidays. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
Ann Volmer-Goralski

Ann Volmer-Goralski, owner of Scarvaci’s Florist and Gift Shop, worked in the Holton St. shop, which began in 1949, as a young girl.