Florist and community leader Steve Hanauer died Wednesday at age 76, due to complications from a fall. He opened Steve’s Valencia Florist on Lyons Ave. in 1974.
Steve and his wife Jan’s paths had crossed long before they started dating in 1986. Steve had been a friend of Jan’s father, and Jan had been a student in a Regional Occupational Program floral design class at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills.
In 1986, Jan called to order flowers, “and we were both newly single,” Jan said. “He had a certain charm, a way of joking with people. And he was tall, and I’m tall, so that helped.”
When they started dating, Steve sent Jan a single rose the first day, two the second day, and more each day until she received a dozen.
By that point, Steve Hanauer had been running the shop on Lyons Ave. for twelve years, having moved up from San Fernando, where he’d also run a flower shop.
Hanauer got started in the flower business in junior college, when he and a friend got jobs driving a florist’s delivery truck. The friend ended up going into business selling supplies to florists, and Steve ended up becoming one.
Hanauer made the move to Santa Clarita because “I think he liked the small town feel that existed here back then,” Jan Hanauer said. “It was just Newhall and Saugus really, but it was growing, and it was just nice out here.”
Over the years, Steve’s grew with the community, adding a second store on Bouquet Canyon Road, which he sold in the early ’90s and a third, which closed in 1996, in the Valencia Industrial Center. For a time, they had a store on Town Center Dr. where Apollo’s Barber Shop is now located. The Hyatt had just opened, and there wasn’t yet enough foot traffic to support that location.
Steve’s also held the concession to sell flowers at the gift shop at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital for a number of years, and the shop continues a tradition at the hospital.
“When a patient, and it’s usually women, finishes their treatment for breast cancer and get the word that they are cancer free, we give them a complimentary pink rose,” Jan said. “We go some weeks without any; this week, there are three. Receiving a flower makes people happy.”
Steve’s also provided a free bouquet of flowers each week for the reception desks at The Signal and Santa Clarita City Hall. “It’s a nice gesture, and we left some business cards next to the bouquet, so it was probably good for business,” Jan Hanauer said.
Today, Steve’s is back to its original store on Lyons, by now the oldest full-service flower shop in Santa Clarita.
It’s a family operation, with Jan and two daughters running the shop. Most of its employees have been with the shop for more than 15 years.
Steve was in the store every day until about two years ago, when health problems forced him to cut back to a couple of afternoons a week.
Steve Hanauer carried a notebook in which he kept track of wedding anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates, so he could make timely reminders to his regular customers when it was time to buy a bouquet.
He was active with the Kiwanis Club of Santa Clarita, serving a term as president, and helping to organize its annual 5K run at Magic Mountain. He also helped run the local chapter of the American Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Days fundraiser, and supported the SCV Boys and Girls Club and the SCV Senior Center.
“He was an amazing person, so sweet,” said Nikkie Ha, manager of the Mandarin Wong Restaurant next door to the floral shop. “And his shop has the best flowers.”
Jan Hanauer shares that sentiment. “This business was his life, and it was a lot of hard work. But he loved it.”
A memorial service for Hanauer is planned, but no date has been set.