HOPATCONG – Samantha Prestifilippo and Dolores Calo, co-owners of Presto Flowers, were upbeat and enthusiastic at their Santa’s Winter Wonderland event Saturday evening, despite the relentless cold rain that pounded the area all day and night.
Open since mid April, Presto Flowers is a flower shop, garden center and gift shop that occupies one of the first commercial locations on Lakeside Boulevard at the edge of Hopatcong, and is a dream that became a reality after a brief discussion and a leap of faith between the two friends.
“We had a conversation about one day opening our own place,” said Calo. “Then two days later this location became available. It was turn key,” she said referring to the previous tenants, Struble Gardens. “We couldn’t pass it up.”
Since opening the women have been busy trying to get noticed.
“It has been a bit of a struggle—people just don’t realize we’re here,” admitted Calo who still holds a fulltime job at Picatinny Arsenal. Prestifilippo owns Presto Personal Gardens, a landscaping business she has run out of Hopatcong for the past 15 years. They have one fulltime employee for the flower shop.
“When she is not at work she is here,” said Prestifilippo of her friend Calo. “We are putting all of our time into being here.” Prestifilippo has lived in Hopatcong her entire life. She met Calo through their kids, she said.
The women believe their creativity gives them an edge and sets them apart from their competitors.
“We think outside the box,” said Prestifilippo who noted that one of their arrangements won second place this past summer at the New Jersey State Fair.
Of note, Presto Flowers is a sponsor of the Miss America pageant in New Jersey, the Growing Stage Theater in Netcong and one of only four official florists at Perona Farms in Andover. And, said Prestifilippo, one of their arrangements will be featured at a Frank Sinatra tribute to be held at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in Manhattan on December 12.
“What sets us apart is our unique arrangements,” said Prestifilippo.
At Saturday’s event a steady stream of visitors, including the furry four-legged kind, stayed dry under a large enclosure decorated to look like a cozy winter wonderland that included Santa sitting on a vintage sleigh. The event was a fundraiser for Hopatcong High School’s Project Graduation 2015.