Business

Beno's Flowers and Gifts wants to bring fun, happiness

Fresh flowers on display at the flower bar at Beno’s Flowers and Gifts in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Fresh flowers on display at the flower bar at Beno’s Flowers and Gifts in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — A new Iowa City business aims to spread happiness.

Benito Ocampo Campos opened Beno’s Flowers and Gifts on Nov. 15 in downtown Iowa City, realizing a longtime goal to own his own flower shop.

“Flowers bring happiness, with their smell and their colors, when people receive them,” Ocampo said. “Everyone loves flowers.”

Ocampo, who grew up in Mexico, opened his first business in that country at the age of 19.

“It was a small gift shop — only about 300 square feet,” he recalled. “I did decorations with balloons for parties and a few weddings with flowers but not much. I had no experience.”

A year or two later, Ocampo moved to Chicago, where his parents had lived for many years and where his older siblings had been born.

“I didn’t speak English, so I went to school and worked different places gaining knowledge about English and flowers,” he said of his five years in that city.

About three years ago, Ocampo relocated to Iowa City to be with his partner who works for the University of Iowa. He took a job in the hospitality industry, working for a hotel and conference center, and continued to take classes in flowers and wedding design.

“I’m still taking classes,” he said. “I never stop learning.”

About two years ago, he began searching for a location to open his flower shop.

“I looked at Iowa River Landing, I looked in Coralville,” he said. “Then I met Nancy Bird.”

Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, told Ocampo about a new retail space being created inside the Iowa Book building, with an entrance on Iowa Avenue, around the corner from Iowa Book’s Clinton Street entrance.

“It’s the perfect location,” Ocampo said.

With views of the Old Capitol and lots of foot traffic outside, the bright space holds fragrant floral arrangements and an array of gift items and party favors, including balloons, sparklers shaped as numbers and letters, handmade items from Mexico and confetti chocolate bars.

“I look for unique items that bring fun and happiness,” Ocampo said.

He plans to add a flower bar for customers to create their own bouquets and host floral arrangement workshops.

l Know a business that’s been in operation for less than a year that could make for an entertaining “Ground Floor”? Let us know at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a Glance

l Owner: Benito Ocampo Campos

l Business: Beno’s Flowers and Gifts

l Address: 107 E. Iowa Ave., Iowa City

l Phone: (319) 499-7571

l Email: beno@benosflowers.com

l Website: www.benosflowers.com

l Facebook: Benos-Flowers-426967324380356

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