By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Larry Kramer is back in Big Sky, arranging flowers after a three-year hiatus honing his skills in the eastern U.S. In early June, the former owner of Big Sky Floral added coffee to his flower offerings when he opened Cafe Flora in the Meadow Village.
Located between the Big Sky Owner’s Association office and Big Sky Fitness Fusion, Kramer offers barista-style drinks from Cravens Coffee roasters, smoothies and other blended beverages, as well as Teavanna teas in a brightly lit, modern coffee shop. He thinks this combination flower shop and meetinghouse can thrive in Big Sky.
“I’d seen it in other places, like a greenhouse with a [coffee] kiosk in Seattle,” Kramer said. “I didn’t want to sell gift wear because it’s a tough market [in Big Sky]. I think it’s a good offering for people visiting … they have a place to kind of camp out.”
Cafe Flora offers free Internet access as well as a Wi-Fi printer where patrons can print anything from boarding passes to business documents, Kramer said.
The Great Falls native originally married into the flower business 20 years ago, when his ex-wife’s family owned Bozeman Floral off Huffine Lane. He started in the greenhouse there and when the couple opened Big Sky Floral he drove back and forth to Bozeman to pick up arrangements from the designers. But some customers would come into the Big Sky shop with their own vase looking for a design that day.
“I just started tinkering with it,” Kramer said. The Montana State University alum graduated with a degree in political science and public administration, and when he left Big Sky three years ago, he spent the time away perfecting his craft.
Kramer taught floral design at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky. after a colleague in the agriculture department tipped him off to a job opening with the brand new program, complete with an in-house floral shop. He spent the next two years working for another friend’s company in Tampa, Fla. arranging flowers for weddings and other special events.
The first two months of business have been profitable for Cafe Flora, Kramer said, with coffee sales taking off right away. Now that people know he’s back in town doing floral arrangements he’s been getting a lot of clients back, he added. He’s done one wedding this summer and has another one coming up in September.
Kramer is also excited to be back in his home state and the community where he spent two decades mountain biking, snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding.
“I had an opportunity to start my shop again here and [had] missed Big Sky since I left,” Kramer said. “With the scenery and the level that you can do all these [activities], it’s pretty unmatched.”