DB: Where are you?
JR: In Waterville, Maine, halfway between Bangor and Portland. You know you’re pretty far north when you see moose-crossing road signs.
DB: What’s going on there?
JR: I’m part of an educational team that travels around the country on behalf of the floral industry and various manufacturers. I’m teaching a business and design seminar on how to survive in today’s economy. One of the highlights is to help people in the industry use technology to its fullest — meaning social media, online promotions, having a clean and easy-to-navigate website, and (providing) sterling customer service.
DB: What other challenges are there?
JR: As a small business, we compete against large conglomerates. The big companies obviously encourage consumers to buy from them, and they have deeper pockets to advertise; fortunately, the public is focused on buying local. We also make it a point to be distinctive in everything we do, from the moment you walk in our store to the floral arrangements we create to the events we design.
DB: How’s the new studio in Ann Arbor?
JR: It’s going well. We have many clients in Ann Arbor that are using our services, but they found that it was fairly far to drive (to our store in Ferndale). Still, they want to work with someone who is local. We found an industry partner in Ann Arbor who deals in logistics and transportation for large events, so we share space with them. We’re just outside of the city, so we have plenty of free parking — and we work by appointment only.
DB: What’s your next project?
JR: We may do some pop-up (stores) in some different areas, and we may add another permanent location. As a small business owner, you have to be willing to change. The good news is that, as a small business, we can change a lot quicker than a large business. db