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11/9/2003

Bloomin’ success

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — “The town was about 23,000 when we moved here, so you can imagine how it’s grown.”

Or, perhaps, blossomed.

That statement is from the former owner of Longmont Florist, Gerald Golter, who operated Longmont’s oldest floral shop along with his wife, Harriet, for 30 years.

Gerald contributed some ideas for the new home of Longmont Florist II to the current owner of the businesses: his son, Brad.

“I still ask my dad for advice,” said Brad, who said his parents are doing fine and enjoying their retirement.

The original Longmont Florist is still located where it has been since 1963, at 614 Coffman St., but Longmont Florist II is now in a brand-new building at 650 20th Ave.

Guiding a visitor through the shiny new building, which opened last month, Brad Golter began the tour in the large, walk-in cooler.

“It’s bigger than all of those combined,” said Golter, comparing the cooler in the new place to the three that were in the former Longmont Florist II location, in the Garden Acres Shopping Center.

Customers who were used to the store’s strip mall location will notice quite a difference with its floor space, south-facing windows that lets the sun stream in, and high, vaulted ceilings.

And with 3,200 square feet on the main floor and another 2,800 in the basement, Longmont Florist II’s space will benefit both store locations.

“We’re going to use the basement to store hard goods — baskets and vases — for both shops,” said Golter. “This will definitely help out the downtown store with the storage we can use up here.”

Longmont Florist was started in 1963 by the late Harold M. Miller. “Harold started the shop,” Gerald Golter remembers. “He used to work at Schmitz Floral, and he kind of spun off from there.

“I worked in a Wheat Ridge flower shop for 11 years after I got out of the army. The shop (here) was up for sale, and I wanted to get into a smaller town.”

Gerald and his wife moved to Longmont and bought the store in 1969.

“(The Millers) used to live in the house that the downtown store was built around, and (Harold) built a storefront out front,” said Brad Golter, explaining that his father made additions and purchased property next door for the parking lot.

Brad worked in the shop during his years attending Longmont High School, and after graduation moved north to study accounting and finance at the University of Northern Colorado.

“At that point, I would say I always wanted to have my own business, but I didn’t know it would be the flower shop,” Golter said.

But he and his older sister, both working separate full-time jobs at the time, became interested enough to buy Longmont Florist II from their parents about 20 years ago, hiring a manager to run the place.

The elder Golters had opened Longmont Florist II in Garden Acres in 1978.

Brad was working in Frederick at Unique Mobility — now UQM Technologies — when his parents started to talk about retiring.

“I had a good experience (at UQM), but I wanted my own business,” Golter said. After working in his parent’s downtown store for three years, learning the business from top to bottom, he bought his sister and his parents out and took over ownership of both stores in January 1998.

“We’re really lucky because we have really good people helping us,” Golter said, adding that staff even helped with the design of the new building. “I relied on them for a lot of things. They picked out the tiles and the colors on the wall — that’s what they do, and I’m real happy with the design they chose.”

Robert Ferenc, an architect for Sun Construction, the company that designed and built the building, said Golter had some fairly specific ideas about what he wanted.

“Initially, he wanted something in the farmhouse vernacular,” said Ferenc. “He liked something that was evocative of a farmhouse, or a farm structure, because he really liked the old Village Gardener — the silo and the steel roof.”

Putting in a silo proved too expensive, but the southwest corner of the building does have a three-sided solarium that juts away from the front wall, making it visible from Main Street.

“We tried to be sensitive to the other buildings in the area there, working with scale and materials, and still be distinctive,” Ferenc said.

The 40-year-old Golter declined to say what the building and the lot it sits on cost, but admitted that it was a significant investment. Now that it’s up and running, however, he said he couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve been looking for land in this area for probably eight to 10 years, and we’re glad to finally have something worked out,” he said.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.