It’s been my privilege to write about almost 80 small business and their owners over these many months. I truly see it as an honor.
I generally look for three things when choosing a subject. First, I want to highlight those people who see their job as a pure joy rather than a dreaded drudge. If they are articulate with passionate, witty and charming quotes, so much the better.
Next, I want to feature niche businesses, those that might otherwise be overlooked. Finally, I really like to find those stories that are quintessential New Orleans.
With Jonathon Scott, co-owner of F&F Botanica and Candle Shop, I hit the trifecta.
Regrettably, Scott died almost a month ago. Flowers, candles and caring messages were left in front his store on North Broad Street for days as the neighborhood mourned.
“I pulled up in front yesterday and just stood there,” said Zalia BeVille, manager of AllWays Lounge & Cabaret on the store’s Facebook page. “It was one of those days…y’all are missed. Thanks for the support over the years.”
Scott's father-in-law, Felix Figueroa, opened F&F in 1983. Scott and his wife, Tanya, officially took over the business almost 10 years ago.
The store served traditional Catholics, devoted practitioners of Santeria and everything in between. Scott always knew exactly what I was looking for and so often lovingly shared his thoughts, knowledge and experience. It was always an experience entering through those red doors, even if all I was looking for was a large order of candles for a party or wedding.
I guess it’s because it was one of my first “Labors of Love,” or perhaps it’s because I so often pass F&F’s iconic marquee with its neon lights glowing, but this passing has stayed in my thoughts these past few weeks.
By the way, Scott partnered with Broad Community Connections and the Arts Council of New Orleans in the Iconic Signage Project to create the F&F sign. The large sign lights up with a red and yellow candle displaying the store's name, address and items sold. He and Figueroa worked with artist Candy Chang for more than two years on the sign's design.
Felix Figeuroa died in July, after suffering from a long-time illness. And now with this recent death, Tanya’s decision is to close the store permanently.
The closing of F&F now sadly joins the list of those things that “just ain’t dere no more.” It’s particularly sobering because this small New Orleans business was so rare and so unique to our brilliant culture.