Local wholesale florist pulls out thousands after Empyrean closes


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) – Wholesale florist Gassafy has been in business for about 60 years and it’s been a family business.

“My sister works here, my niece works here, my mother works here. I think it’s everyone, ”said one of the owners, Jeff Stoppenhagen.

Stoppenhagen and its warehouse manager Ben Ault say they have worked with many loyal customers in Fort Wayne. Their experience with Empyrean Events and Catering was therefore a shock.

“I noticed a little change maybe like July or August, a little slower pay, slower pay, slower pay. And promises were made from Empyrean ‘no, we’re working on it, we’re working on it, we’re working on it, we’re just trying to do what’s best for customers’ and we’re like okay, no problem, ”Stoppenhagen said.

Stoppenhagen says Gassafy has provided Empryean with flowers for many upcoming weddings and events. They have worked with them on and off over the years. He says he continuously demanded payment for different orders and ultimately never got a response.

“We would receive a check, put it in, a check would be cleared, a check would not be cleared. And she said “okay, I’ll send another check to compensate.” Well, like the last two, it was like ‘Okay, I’m going to get paid for this.’ Getting the payment, delivering the products, putting in the checks, the checks weren’t good and then no communication, ”Stoppenhagen said.

Then they heard rumors about the business shutting down, but they were never contacted by owner Renee Miner herself.

READ MORE: Local event center unexpectedly closes, leaving some customers with thousands of dollars

“You hear rumors about it, and then we had another client who said ‘hey, I’m taking over all these marriages that are coming up, these people are closing’, and that’s how we found out because someone else said I’m taking over. “I’ll probably hire some of their employees,” Ault said.

Ault says he wishes there was some sort of communication from them because he says they would have tried to make it work.

“We’ve been dealing with so many florists for so long that you build a relationship with them and know them by name, you know their children’s names and so you kind of build that relationship. So you don’t want to cut straight at someone, you kind of want to say ‘hey, we’ve been doing business for a long time, let’s figure something out,’ Ault said.

The men say they haven’t gotten their money back or heard anything from Miner yet, but losing money isn’t what bothers them the most.

“Honestly, it’s more just the trust factor, so you still want to think that you can trust customers, but now that trust factor goes down a few notches, so at the same time you can have customers that you can. let it float a bit longer and now you have to tighten it up a bit because you realize that things are going to happen very quickly, ”said Stoppenhagen.

They say they haven’t lost anything over those newlyweds whose perfect wedding day was wasted.

“I can’t imagine being able to get married and have the happiest day of my life and all of a sudden” no we took your money and you don’t have an event venue or flowers, ”Stoppenhagen said.

They say they know there might be other companies that haven’t come forward yet and have had the exact same experience and they want them to know that they are not alone.

“It may seem that when something like this happens to you, how did I fall in love with it or how didn’t I see it coming. We have been in business for 60 years and the same has happened to us, ”said Stoppenhagen.

“If we’re one vendor, there will be other vendors, there will be food vendors, there will be people they work with. They did it to a lot of people, ”Ault said.

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