Flower Cot­tage on Main: 27 years in bloom

Gay busi­ness owner Richard Ramey talks flow­ers and the love of peo­ple that keeps him go­ing

GA Voice - - Work It! -

“This busi­ness is re­ally an art form. We en­joy be­ing able to put to­gether some­thing dif­fer­ent and not just what’s on the in­ter­net. But what­ever you want, we can do.”

—Richard Ramey

By DAR­IAN AARON

daaron@the­gavoice.com

When Richard Ramey opened Flower Cot­tage on Main in East Point there were eight florists in the area. To­day there’s only one. That was 27 years ago, and since then a lot has changed, but Ramey’s busi­ness is still stand­ing.

Si­t­u­ated along Main St. in East Point’s his­toric down­town, Flower Cot­tage is one of two busi­nesses that Ramey owns, The At­lanta Ea­gle be­ing the other. The lat­ter has be­come a sta­ple in At­lanta’s LGBT com­mu­nity with both busi­nesses ex­em­pli­fy­ing Ramey’s brand of spir­ited and ‘peo­ple first’ en­trepreneur­ship.

Speak­ing of peo­ple, Ramey’s gift as a florist has landed him on the con­tact lists of such celebri­ties as Queen Lat­i­fah, Tyler Perry and the late El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor and Michael Jack­son. He served as The King of Pop’s per­sonal florist for two years and was re­spon­si­ble for beau­ti­fy­ing par­ties in­side Jack­son’s Nev­er­land Ranch. He was also cho­sen to pro­vide all of the flow­ers for the homego­ing ser­vice for Coretta Scott King, wife of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a vo­cal LGBT rights ad­vo­cate.

Ge­or­gia Voice caught up with Ramey on a cool Thurs­day morn­ing in East Point, and like Flower Cot­tage, he was charm­ing, ac­ces­si­ble and ea­ger to share the story be­hind his jour­ney as a suc­cess­ful gay busi­ness owner for nearly three decades.

Ge­or­gia Voice: What mo­ti­vated you to open Flower Cot­tage on Main?

Richard Ramey:

I opened this busi­ness on June 5, 1989. My first land­lord was May­nard Jack­son. We go back a long time. He was a great guy. The love of flow­ers and the love of the in­dus­try came from high school. I was al­ways a class of­fi­cer or pres­i­dent of the class—so I did a lot of proms and dances— just or­ga­niz­ing events. As I got older, I re­al­ized that this is some­thing I wanted to do.

What would you say is the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of run­ning Flower Cot­tage on Main?

It’s a very chal­leng­ing busi­ness. I don’t think peo­ple re­al­ize that there are a lot of dead­lines in this busi­ness. Peo­ple will call and say, ‘Oh I need it there by 12 or by 1 or by 2.’ My main ob­jec­tive is to keep my cus­tomers happy ev­ery day. I think be­ing in any busi­ness for 27 years gives you an idea of how much I love it—be­cause if I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here. I en­joy the com­mu­nity, the op­por­tu­ni­ties and I love peo­ple. I think that’s where the two busi­nesses come to­gether: a night­club and a florist. I have an op­por­tu­nity to al­ways be around peo­ple and that’s what I love most of all.

Flower Cot­tage on Main is part of the Florists’ Transworld De­liv­ery (FTD) fam­ily of florists. Why is this im­por­tant for cus­tomers to know?

There’s two com­pa­nies: FTD and Tele­flora and they’re both na­tional com­pa­nies. I’m in the top 100 in the na­tion of about 17,000 shops. Be­ing in the top 100 says a lot Richard Ramey is the owner of Flower Cot­tage on Main and The At­lanta Ea­gle. (Photo by Dar­ian Aaron) about our com­pany; not only do we have the vol­ume but we also have the qual­ity. There’s guide­lines that you have to meet to be a part of one of those com­pa­nies. It also en­ables us to de­liver flow­ers all over the world. We go through FTD to get the flow­ers there.

What sets Flower Cot­tage on Main apart from other flower shops?

If you go up front [in the store] you’ll see very few ar­range­ments pre-made. We like to cus­tom make each piece. Un­for­tu­nately, with the in­ter­net to­day we get a lot of or­ders where peo­ple say, ‘I want what’s in the pic­ture,’ so we have to fol­low the guide­lines in the pic­ture. And then we have many cus­tomers that say, ‘You know what I like, make me some­thing beau­ti­ful.’ This busi­ness is re­ally an art form. We en­joy be­ing able to put to­gether some­thing dif­fer­ent and not just what’s on the in­ter­net. But what­ever you want, we can do.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your busi­ness?

Tough ques­tion. If you go to bed at night and you didn’t learn some­thing that day then you re­ally had a bad day. I lis­ten to peo­ple and I pay at­ten­tion to my sur­round­ings and I’m al­ways very happy when I learn some­thing new in a day.

Over­all, I’d say the amount of ded­i­ca­tion you have to give a busi­ness for it to be suc­cess­ful. You just can’t open the doors and they will come. You’ve got to be a part of the busi­ness and you’ve got to be will­ing to put your whole self into that busi­ness or you won’t be here. I feel that I’ve done that.

March 4, 2016

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