Q&A: Meet the guy behind the rose cart

The street florist who’s been selling roses outside of Bobst since September has much more to say than just “roses, roses.”


Alex Tran

Martin Fritsche can often be found standing outside Bobst Library with his cart of flowers. Since September, he’s been selling roses for $5 per stem. (Staff photo by Alex Tran)

Alex Tran, Culture Editor

If you’ve walked by Bobst Library this semester, or even down Washington Square South, chances are you have run into an old man selling roses, or have heard him softly saying “Roses, roses.” This past Valentine’s Day, the roses guy sat down with WSN and shared his love for flowers and the NYU community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Fritsche: My name is Martin Fritsche and I’m from the Caribbean, from a small island named St. Lucia. My father was European and he came to the Caribbean and he met my mother back in the day. I’m the last of their 11 children. I was 30 years of age when I said, “Well, let me come to New York and see New York for a few months before I come back to the Caribbean.” But I got tied up in New York ever since 1983. It’s a great city — nice museum, nice concert, good cuisine, nice food. I’ve learned a lot of food here that I would never have known in the Caribbean.

WSN: How long have you been selling roses?

Fritsche: I’ve been doing roses for a long time. I used to do it at Yale in Connecticut. It was in 1998 that I started, but I’ve always planted them in the Caribbean. My mom showed me how to plant anthurium and asparagus fern. We used to do that a lot and give people the ferns to make wreaths in St. Lucia. In terms of flowers, I love carnations, gerberas, and all kinds of roses and flowers. And it’s nice selling flowers because I love the beauty of the roses and flowers. They are beautiful creations the Lord made, kaleidoscopes of colors.

WSN: Have the students here been supporting your business?

Fritsche: I really love the students. They’re so nice and compassionate and forthcoming and giving sometimes. They dress clean and have good standards. It’s different from Yale because it was a different kind of business I used to do. The graduation was big, and I also did that for Wesleyan too. I was around NYU when I came in 1983 and I was by the park, Washington Square Park. I started to sell weed and my hair was long and golden. The students used to take my pictures and buy me whole-wheat bread and take me by their dorms sometimes. 

WSN: Will you be staying with us for a long time?

Fritsche: I would love to! As long as they don’t kick me out, I would love to get a nice little cart by the road so I can come back in winter or summer, because excess heat is not good for the flowers, and excess cold is not good for the flower either. I’m planning to build a little cart that I can push around and sit in, with the flowers on the side. 

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While the roses guy might not be here for the cold, you can still catch him once the weather starts getting warmer. Support this florist: It’s $5 for a fresh rose and a sweet conversation.

Contact Alex Tran at [email protected].