Historic Cugini Florists celebrates 50 years in Renton

Originally a grocery store and then a flower shop in Auburn, Cugini’s is a staple of downtown Renton.

Cugini Florists & Fine Gifts is a Renton institution and after 50 years, it’s the city’s last brick-and-mortar florist shop.

“Once upon a time, there were many,” said owner Arique Jacques. “That shows you how loyal Renton is to Cugini.”

Originally owned by Dario and Josephine Cugini, the flower shop has stood in the same building on 3rd Street since 1973. Half a century later, very little has changed.

The Cugini’s ran the shop — the second location after their Auburn store — until 1986, when ownership was passed on to Bill Gaw and Sharon Landes, the latter of whom had worked at the flower shop for eight years.

“It was a really nice shop,” said Gaw. “There was the certainty of a thriving business.”

Gaw and Landes ran Cugini’s for 34 years before offering the store to Jacques.

“I was working a corporate job in interior and exterior plantscape design, and had nothing to talk about at home,” said Jacques, who had been an employee at the flower shop prior to owning it. “Bill approached me about owning my own flower shop and kind of planted the seed. I believe in [the shop]. I live here in Renton, two blocks away and I want something to be proud of.”

Along with pride, Jacques said that he wanted to continue Cugini’s legacy because of the shop’s honorable reputation, the fact that it’s a piece of Renton history, and the “quality products, designs and service.” Along with flowers and plants from all over the world, Cugini also sells home decor, clothing, snacks and gifts. According to Gaw, Dario and Jo Cugini would import gifts from Italy and under Jacques’ management, there is an emphasis on featuring items made locally.

“It has an eclectic elegance,” said Jacques.

When it comes to working at an enormously successful and historical flower shop, Jacques says that it takes a lot of different skills.

“To work in a flower shop, you need to have an artistic eye, patience, ability to see someone’s vision and make it come to life, discipline and training, ability to be teachable and to adapt,” he said.

“A strong back,” added Gaw.

As for Cugini’s 50th anniversary, an official celebration is on its way. “This summer, we will have the opportunity to celebrate with the community,” said Jacques.

Cugini Florists & Fine Gifts is located at 413 South 3rd Street in Renton and is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5;30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
On the side of the Cugini Florists building is a wing mural for photo ops.

Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing On the side of the Cugini Florists building is a wing mural for photo ops.