The independent, family-owned business at 5215 Folsom Blvd. first opened at its original location of 5140 Folsom Blvd. on Nov. 1, 1970.
The business also held an open house on Saturday, Dec. 5, 1970. This event showcased the shop’s Christmas decorations, arrangements, cut flowers and blooming plants.
Although the Rust family is proud of its longtime operation of this popular florist shop, the story of the family’s involvement working in a florist shop has much deeper roots.
Dennis Rust, who owns Rust Florist with his brothers Greg and Marty Rust, said that his father Joe Rust was the first member of his family to work in the floral business.
“(Joe’s friend) Fred Fick ran the nursery at East Lawn (Cemetery) and he brought my dad (who was living in Arizona at the time) to Sacramento and told him that he thought it would be a good idea for him to work at the florist business (at the cemetery),” Dennis said. “My dad ended up working there (at East Lawn Florist) for 37 years and I’d say for the last 20 years over there, he was the boss.”
“My father started working at East Lawn (Florist) in 1933 and we moved over there (to the cemetery) in about 1948 when I was about 4 years old,” Dennis said. “We lived in a company home (at 1748 46th St.).”
In their two-story, stucco-covered house at the cemetery, Joe and his wife Katherine eventually raised nine children, George, Larry, Dennis, Loretta, Greg, Mary Rose, Marty, Dolores and Vickie.
Two other residential houses were also located on the cemetery grounds. These single-story houses, which have since been demolished, were the homes of East Lawn Florist employee Toschi Kiino at 1700 46th St. and Fred and Dru Fick and their daughter, Carol, at 1720 46th St.
The Rusts’ house – which was also later demolished – at the cemetery was constructed by at least 1933 and was originally the home of Charles Bruner, who during this era served as the superintendent of the cemetery and the nursery’s manager.
Dennis said that the Rust children appreciated residing next to the cemetery’s undeveloped property.
“When we moved over there (to the cemetery grounds) when we were little kids, the back half of East Lawn (Cemetery) was an open field, so we used to play back there,” Dennis said. “So, that was our playground. We had a baseball diamond with a backstop, we used to fly kites back there and we had a basketball hoop on a gravel driveway that used to pop the ball all the time. We also used to play flag or touch football out there on a plowed field and when you fell down, you just fell in this soft dirt, so you didn’t get hurt.”
In addition to serving as a playground for children, the undeveloped East Lawn property also included the Rusts’ gardens and field flowers, which the family picked and sold at the florist shop.
Dennis said that the funds raised through the sales of the field flowers paid for his family’s vacations.
When asked to describe one of the more unique things that he remembers about living on the cemetery grounds, Dennis said that he recalls how the family would be locked inside the cemetery every night.
“At nights, when we wanted to go somewhere after 9 o’clock in the summer or 6 o’clock in the winter, we had to unlock the gate to go out,” Dennis said. “We were locked in there, because they didn’t want anybody coming into the cemetery at night.”
Unlike many businesses that completely changed their ownership and personnel, Rust Florist is still owned and operated by the Rust family with the assistance of several employees.
The original family members who operated the store were Joe, George and Dennis Rust.
Other Rust family members who have worked in the East Sacramento florist shop are: Katherine, Greg, Marty, Larry, Dolores and Vickie.
Dennis, who currently owns Rust Florist with his brothers, Greg and Marty, recalls that his father, who passed away in 1990, had a great reputation as a local florist.
“A lot of (the former East Lawn Florist) customers followed my dad over here to (Rust Florist),” said Dennis, who, like all of his brothers, attended Christian Brothers High School.
Dennis added that although Joe was not the only member of his family who worked at East Lawn Florist and the then new-Rust Florist, when Rust Florist first opened, many people who called the business specifically requested to speak to Joe.
But certainly times have changed, as Joe’s sons have now become the veterans of this popular business that has maintained its old-time florist shop traditions, which include creating many arrangements that are not available in modern-day florist shops.
With the exception of such things as a few new faces and a relocation across the street in 1990, very few things have changed around Rust Florist.
But it is this consistency and a reputation for friendly, professional service that has helped to maintain the business’s success throughout the years.
And although he admits that operating the business has not always been easy, Dennis said that he looks back on the past 40 years as an overall success.
“We’re proud of the fact that we’re still operating in these difficult economic times when a lot of other businesses have gone under,” Dennis said. “We know a lot of our customers and we are proud of the service that we’ve been able to provide for them. We’re not about just selling flowers, but we’re very interested in repeat business and helping our customers whether it’s a small order or a large order. We have pride that we’re doing a good job for people.”
Rust Florist is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information about this business, call (916) 452-4527 or visit www.rustflorist.com.