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FACES: Larimore, N.D., couple purchase local flower shop

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news Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

LARIMORE, N.D. -- For Amy and Larry Cronin, it was baptism by flower when they became Larimore business owners this spring.

The couple purchased Larimore Flower and Gift about a week before Valentine's Day --typically a busy time for florists -- and during the next few months, they also made and sold dozens of flower bouquets and corsages for the Larimore High School prom, Easter, Mother's Day and graduation. Besides that, they operate a greenhouse attached to the flower shop where they kept busy taking care of the flowers and making containers to be placed in area cemeteries on Memorial Day.

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Although being thrown into the business in the midst of its busiest season has been hectic, the Cronins are enjoying it. Larry works at the flower and gift shop full time and Amy helps out on weekends and evenings when she's not working at her full-time job in Grand Forks.

The flower shop is a good fit with the "Speaking Roses from the Heart" business the Cronins started in 2009, where they imprint messages on live, wood and silk flowers. Larry and Amy created the Speaking Roses business, affiliated with Speaking Roses International, in 2009.

Larry, a 20-veteran of the restaurant industry, was researching online for something different to do when he learned about Speaking Roses from the Heart International.

"I always liked something different, a challenge," he said. Since the Cronins set up their speakingrosesfromtheheart.com website, they have shipped the imprinted flowers, mostly roses, to customers across the United States, including the Texas, Pennsylvania and California.

A good combo

Now, they also market their imprinted flowers from the Larimore flower shop.

"It's much easier to market in the four walls," Larry said. Customers typically buy the imprinted flowers as anniversary and birthday gifts. The message can be a standard greeting, or it can be personalized. The couple also can emboss on other objects.

"We've done baseballs, and we've done hockey pucks," Larry said.

When the couple learned that Larimore Flower and Gift was for sale, he and Amy decided to buy it and run it together with their Speaking Roses business. The timing was good for the flower and gift shop purchase because their twin daughters, Hailey and Riley, 9, are old enough to help out in the family business, the Cronins said.

"The greenhouse is where they've had the most fun," Amy said, adding that Hailey and Riley created containers for Memorial Day. The twins also water plants in the greenhouse, she said.

Besides their daughters, the Cronins also receive help and advice from the flower shop's previous owner, Joleen Landis, and from her family and friends.

"They've been great support," Amy said. A crew of about half a dozen, for example, helped deliver flowers to customers on holidays.

Joleen also taught Larry to make flower arrangements, staying on to work in the shop for a couple of months after she sold the business.

Larry discovered floral arranging is something he enjoys.

"It's fun. It's creating. I got my start (creating) in the restaurant business with food. You start out with ingredients ... there are basically recipes for flowers like there are for cooking food."

Besides managing the Speaking Roses business, the flower shop and greenhouse, the Cronins rent tuxedos and operate Larimore Lodging. Larimore Lodging is made up of two small apartments above the flower shop, which the Cronins rent to guests, similar to a motel.

"There's enough for me never to get bored," Larry said.

Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to abailey@gfherald.com.

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