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The day before Mother’s Day is traditionally the most busy for any florist. Combine that with the seasonal proms, wedding and graduations, and a florist will find their business booming. Or in this case, forgive the pun, blooming.
Richmond-based Strange’s Florist has been meeting the May challenge for nearly eighty years. With the disappearance of such Richmond landmark business names as Ukrops, Thailheimers and Miller and Rhoads, Strange’s remains as the florist most Richmond residents think of first.
Like many successful businesses, Strange’s had humble beginnings. In the 1930’s a U.S. Postal worker named Gideon A. Strange was seeking the opportunity to earn extra money in his free time. Strange began selling plants and flowers that he raised in his yard. Eventually that business grew to 8000 square feet of greenhouse space. In what was no doubt a reflection on the resourcefulness of those post Depression era years, he built his greenhouses from the parts from greenhouses that were being dismantled in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetary.
When Gideon Strange passed away in 1947 a partnership between William J. Gouldin, Sr. and William F. Kidd purchased the company from Strange’s widow. Engineers on the R F & P Railroad, Gouldin and Kidd were also seeking a means to extra income. Together they grew and expanded the business. Then Gouldin bought out Kidd in 1980. Gouldin’s son, Bill, Jr., who had grown up working the greenhouses, was named the first full-time manager. William Gouldin, Sr. passed away in 2007.
President and CEO William J. “Bill” Gouldin Jr. is a testament to the value and rewards of hard work. He managed one of the most successful florists in the country for over 30 years. Contrary to what the successful business models might teach, Gouldin did that without a college degree. Gouldin did not allow that to deter him from business success and eventually used that success to complete his education.
While serving on Longwood’s Corporate Advisory Board for the College of Business and Economics, Gouldin decided it was time to complete his degree. In 2006, Longwood University awarded Gouldin a B.S. in business administration. He enrolled in classes to complete his prior work at four other institutions of higher learning and received his degree at the age of 57. Gouldin’s younger twin brothers, Cary and Craig, share in the ownership and management of the business.
Since 1981, the company has been ranked by the Florist Transworld Delivery (FTD) in the top 25 to 40 florists in the United States. This is based on the volume of FTD orders received. That ranking is at the top of some 20,000 FTD member florists. Strange’s remains one of Virginia’s largest greenhouse growers, and one of the largest retail garden centers in the United States. The company employs a little more than 200 people.
Corporate Headquarters for Strange’s is located west of Short Pump Town Center on West Broad Street. That location had previously been home to Paul’s (Markow) Flowers. Stranges also has locations in Richmond, Mechanicsville and Chesterfield.
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