Behind the many booths lining Sproul Plaza is one with many flowers, a few succulents and one smiling man — Zafar Honarmand, the owner of a 34-year-old flower stand that was previously stationed at 2588 Bancroft Way.
Honarmand’s booth, made up of plastic tables, currently stands in front of the Cal Student Store underneath a few umbrellas that he tied to the tables himself with thin purple ribbons.
It may seem small now, but this flower stand has a large history. Honarmand’s stand had been at its previous location on Bancroft Way for over 30 years — and it was not just home to flowers.
His shop displayed awards from various student organizations that he supported by donating flowers as well as letters from notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama and former senator John McCain. His old location, however, has been demolished to make way for a new apartment complex.
According to Honarmand, UC Berkeley contacted him when his shop closed down and offered him a new location in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, where his stand is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
Honarmand has been at his new location, also on Bancroft Way, since the beginning of August. He said he likes his new spot and that more students are around. Students, Honarmand added, are the reason he continues to run his flower shop into his 70s.
“The average age of my customer is 18 to 25,” Honarmand said. “I like the people, the students.”
Some students say his flower shop has been a memorable part of their college experience, including sophomore Sara Zoroufy, who said she felt comforted when walking by his flower stand.
Able to share their common cultural roots, Zoroufy said she would sometimes exchange niceties with Honarmand in Farsi.
“His flower shop is very reminiscent of the flower stands in Tehran as well,” Zoroufy said. “It was like a beautiful part of my other world that was transplanted here.”
Some Berkeley residents who have never purchased plants from his shop still appreciate it.
Berkeley resident Robert Charles said he does not purchase flowers because of financial constraints. He added, however, that the change in location could be good for Honarmand, as the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union is often busy.
Though some community members, including Charles, may struggle to afford the flowers, Honarmand said he aims to make his flowers accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial constraints.
“Normally the reason for flowers is for a date … or for Valentine’s Day,” Honarmand said. “I let the student buy it for $1, $100, $30. It’s OK.”