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Baton Rouge in Bloom: Floral legacy brightens Baton Rouge

Rickey Heroman says he was born into the floral business.

His grandfather owned a religious bookstore that sold Easter lilies in the spring and poinsettias during Christmas, which soon developed into a floral business. He worked in his father, Billy Heroman’s, store in elementary school. He ended up selling a third of it in 2002 to open his own shop, Rickey Heroman’s, in Towne Center. Altogether, the Heroman family has been in the floral business since 1878.

Rickey Heroman’s gets a couple hundred purchases each day, but on Valentine’s Day, that number skyrockets to a couple thousand – some customers come to the store to pick up their orders and some order as a delivery. He said the shop typically makes a thousand deliveries the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Heroman is having trouble deciding how many roses to order for Valentine’s Day this year. Last year, he ordered 15,000 roses and almost sold out. Mardi Gras is a conflict this year because people will be coming back from vacation, and the fact that V-Day is on a Sunday.

“It is a high service, specialized, retail manufacturing business,” Heroman said.

All of items at Rickey Heroman’s are custom made to please the buyer and received on the same day. He says when people want to express their feelings and emotions, flowers are a great and common way to do so.

“If you think about it, we deal with a person’s whole life—from birth until death, and everything in between,” Heroman said.

Rickey Heroman’s can accommodate any life event you can think of: birthdays, congratulations, love & romance, thank you, get well, new baby, just because, sympathy and even sorority inspired bouquets.

“The best part is seeing the customers happy with my products,” he said.

He also said it makes things easier when you know the customer and know what they like and don’t like.

The process of getting the flowers into the vase takes a long time and many hands. Heroman orders his flowers from Ecuador, Holland and recently added Israel to the list.

Peonies have been blooming in Israel, and Heroman says those are one of the most popular flowers his store sells. California is also a large producer.

The store gets two to three shipments of flowers every week. They order boxes by the hundreds and have to clip the flowers down, dip the stems in a solution to suck up water faster and then hand them off to a designer. The designers are in charge of creating the bouquets and making them gorgeous.

Heroman’s job requires a lot of planning. He asks his customers to be specific when describing what they want their arrangements to look like. If it’s a centerpiece, for example, the designer needs to know if the event will be a sit-down dinner so the flowers can be cut short, and people can see each other.

What sets Rickey Heroman’s apart from other flower shops in Baton Rouge is its “service, quality, variety, and freshness,” Heroman said. He gets to know his customers and learns their personalities and tastes.

Most of the smaller flower shops in the Baton Rouge area don’t have nearly the inventory his shop does, Heroman said. Rickey Heroman’s has a variety of flowers and arrangements to choose from, in an effort to accommodate many tastes.

Rickey Heroman’s also does landscaping and house decorating. People hire Heroman to decorate their houses for holidays; Christmas is the busiest time, as are themed parties. He said they recently decorated several houses in St. James Place retirement homes for a Mardi Gras decoration contest.

Heroman goes the whole nine yards for weddings. He makes sure the flowers at the rehearsal dinner and the bridal shower complement the flowers that will be in the wedding ceremony. He gives all the wedding festivities a floral theme; the colors and types of flowers all have to look good together. So, when you flip through the wedding album, none of the bouquets stick out unintentionally. Rickey Heroman’s has been hired for weddings in Texas, Florida and Tennessee.

Heroman encourages people to buy flowers locally. He said the store’s largest challenge is online shopping. 1-800-flowers and ftd.com do not come delivered fresh, and they overcharge you, he said. You can order online at Rickey Heroman’s website (rickeyheromans.com) or another local flower shop’s website. Ordering online takes away the personal touch of the florist, but Heroman said a majority of his orders every day are from the website.  Heroman said it can be quiet in the store, and then he checks the online orders and all of the sudden it is a very busy day.

“We are service oriented, so people just call and tell us what they want and see if we can make it happen,” Heroman said.

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