Bloom Bar & Co.
The Business and Beauty of a Bloom
By Stacie S. Gonzalez
Imagine yourself in a shop where a fresh, earthy aroma drifts through the air. Surrounded by beautiful flowers, you pause for a moment, close your eyes, and inhale. A florist passes by, carrying a container of delicate lavender; he smiles and greets you by name. Maybe you’re there to brighten a coworker’s day; perhaps you need a bouquet of blooms in a hue that expresses love or loss; maybe you need a gentle reminder that the world is an inspiring, wondrous place. At Bloom Bar & Co., these life-affirming scenarios play out every day.
“It’s about making flowers magical,” explains Andrew Oliver. Andrew and his fiancée, Jen Maraia, are co-owners of Bloom Bar & Co. The couple is new to the floral business, but they have tripled the original owner’s best month in sales since they opened in July 2019. They attribute much of their success to their use of a beverage bar concept: walk up to the counter, tell the bartender what you fancy, and watch as your order is hand-crafted using the finest ingredients: flowers.
“We do things differently here,” says Jen. “We customize everything to your expectations. When people come in, they can purchase a single rose or a handful of different stems by going to the coolers and selecting what they like. Then our florists either arrange the flowers in a vase or hand-tie them into a bouquet.”
Jen and Andrew met as new graduate nursing residents in 2013 and began dating the following year. They will marry next September. Why the leap from nursing to flowers? “It was an opportunity that landed in my lap,” says Andrew. “A friend had owned the shop for eight months when his wife developed some health issues. It was too much, so he put the shop up for sale. Prior to that, the space was a flower shop for over 30 years.”
Andrew is also co-owner of Oliver’s Deli and Colorado Crust Pizza Co.—anchor stores in the same shopping center. Blessed with business experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, he could envision Bloom Bar & Co.’s potential. “Flowers are like food,” says Andrew. “You have to control the cost of something that’s perishable. It’s also very subjective.”
Even with business experience, running a flower shop with no experience in the industry sounds risky. How do you do it? “You find a genius like Nick Walker,” explains Jen. “Nick has been in floral design for over 10 years. He has received eight Kennedy Center Awards in design, and his artistry with flowers is very dramatic and different. Nick and his husband, Jerry Ditter (also a floral specialist), helped us conquer our steep learning curve.”
Nick oversees Bloom Bar & Co.’s flowers as well as wedding and event consultations. Jerry manages the shop and supervises flower deliveries. “Organizing 35 deliveries each day is a big task,” says Andrew. Three talented designers—Leana, Grant, and Lilly—round out the team. “They listened to our ideas for my mom’s funeral wreath,” says customer Rebecca. “It was a beautiful experience working with their designers.”
“I love what I’m doing,” says Nick. “I have degrees in commercial photography, studio art, and art administration, so this falls right in my career path. It’s great to create things I enjoy and that I know other people will enjoy.” Customer Jayme shares her experience: “So amazing! Great selection, good prices, and they even sent me a photo of my order before they delivered it.”
The Bloom Bar & Co. team enjoys innovating and being creative with flowers. For example, “Where the Wild Things Bloom for Autumn” is an arrangement designed by florist Leana. “The sunflowers, daisy mums, and alstroemeria mirror her distinct style: bold, unique, and wild,” says Jen.
Besides offering price and color variety, Bloom Bar & Co. can special-order premium flowers like the peony, the ranunculus, and the Queen Protea: a big, splendid, tropical flower with one stem, one bud, and one bloom that takes a year to grow.
A myriad of locally made items, such as tea, chocolate, preserves, soaps, candles, plants, and cards, make great add-ons to round out a floral gift. Customers can attend floral design workshops or stop in for weekday “happy hours” to buy discounted flowers. “We’re trying to create a community-centered experience,” says Jen. “I enjoy knowing people when they walk in the door. It’s fun to get to know our community.”
Bloom Bar & Co. is located at 205 West Rockrimmon Boulevard, Suite A, in Colorado Springs. For more information, please call 719-548-8646 or visit bloombarandco.com.
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