I was just a normal guy growing up in a small Minnesota town. I loved sports and eventually went on to play college basketball. I found out early that I also had a knack for business. I was the guy with the paper route. I had the lemonade stand. My buddy and I once sold 200 tie dye t-shirts to our friends at school. It seemed like the whole town had one of our tie dye t-shirts that year!
In college, I studied economics and accounting but don’t let those fancy names fool you, I’m just a one plus one equals two kind of guy. While in college, my dad got me started selling gladiolas that my uncle grew in Illinois. I was a peddler and loved it. I started to really appreciate cut flowers and as my peddling business grew, I started to get to know all the retail and wholesale florists in the Minneapolis area. I was the only struggling college student to earn $20,000 in one summer. Back in 1978, that was a nice sum of money.
College was never really my thing but I enjoyed playing basketball and my parents wanted me to get my degree so I continued my education. During my last two years of college, my business continued to grow. New trucks, bigger trucks, hiring people. This was just a summer job! When I finally graduated with an Economics and Accounting degree from Macalester College, the starting salary for a staff accountant was around $20,000 per year. Heck, I made that much just in the summer, so I did the smart thing and decided to continue with my own business instead.
I started selling flowers everywhere. I sold them to retail florists, wholesale florists, at farmers markets and even on the corners. It seemed like the time was coming to concentrate in one area, so I purchased my first retail flower shop when my father died and provided me with the initial capital to buy the business. My retail business grew to over $2M in sales with 40 employees. My wife, Diane, was instrumental in the success of that organization. Eventually, the retail business was sold to a national firm; ending, for the time being, our retail floral business.
Never being one to get too comfortable, it seemed only natural to buy the flowers direct so I started my wholesale floral business as I got to know the suppliers to my retail stores. Our wholesale floral company grew to $5M in sales with around 50 PT and FT employees. One of the highlights of our company is that we produced all of the floral bouquets for Rainbow Foods.
The next chapter of my business career, the one I am currently in, was the transformation of the Farmers Market Annex. I purchased the real estate and the business in 1998 for an amount of money that I would have never imagined being able to afford. For the next ten years, I poured all of my time and energy into what today is my most cherished business accomplishment.
And so that’s my story and that’s where I am at right now. Doing what most people never get a chance to do—something they really love on a day to day basis.
No man is an island unto himself, and I certainly didn't get here alone. I'd first like to thank my wife, Diane, who was a fine school teacher, who ended up being a great floral director, and who could do very well in whatever she chooses. Secondly, to my kids who give us reasons everyday to be successful and who had to sacrifice for us to do what we did. .
Next is Tom Whalen who is my friend and mentor who taught me everything I know about the flower business. Thanks to my good friend Larry Cermak who convinced me many years ago to buy the Farmers Market Annex, and who has been a great partner in the endeavor. To Larry Morgan who was my first banker and only asked, "Well, Scott, can you pay us back?" Thanks! Also to Bob Barsness and John Bingham my second and only bankers who kept the money flowing and always gave me good advice, if i liked it or not.
A special thanks to my dad who taught me how to be an entrepreneur and provided me with the financial support from his untimely death to start my journey. Lastly, to my mom who always believed in me, supported me, and never asked why or how ~ Love you mom!
Scott Barriball - Owner