Pa. flower business blooms 'in the middle of nowhere'

June 09, 1999

Flower CottageBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Pa. - Robert Aument said he sometimes can't figure out how his flower shop does so well, being, as he puts it, "in the middle of nowhere."

Last year, Aument and his partner, Jim Wagaman, arranged flowers for 77 weddings.

"We have two weddings this week," Aument said. "We did over 200 deliveries for Mother's Day."

Even the TV show run by famous arbiter of taste Martha Stewart has found its way to the flower shop, Aument said.

Aument, 58, and Wagaman run The Flower Cottage. Its main office and shop are in an A-frame cabin they built in the driveway of their wooded home on Black Bill Road.


To get there, customers must drive down New Baltimore Road, which dead-ends past Strang Cemetery, and turn onto a dirt road that winds through Michaux State Forest.

The forerunner of the shop in the woods is a flower shop with the same name that the partners opened in 1990 in Fairfield, Pa., in nearby Adams County.

Before that, Aument and Wagaman had a flower business for 25 years in Lancaster County, Pa., but they closed it to retire in 1988. That year they bought a 2-acre wooded lot abutting the state forest and built their home - learning as they went by reading how-to books, Aument said.

"I'm thinking of writing a book called, 'How to Build a House Without Really Trying,'" he said.

With the house built, he and Wagaman grew bored in retirement and decided to open the Fairfield shop.

"We missed the contact with people," Aument said.

Things got so busy so quickly that Wagaman had to quit a job he had taken with a printing firm in Fairfield to work in the shop. Two years ago, they decided to expand by building the shop near their secluded home. It has since become the main part of the business where most flowers are sold and where all ordering and billing is done.

Wagaman runs the Fairfield shop and Aument takes care of business in the new shop.

Customers find their way there by word-of-mouth, Aument said.

"Here we are in the middle of nowhere selling flowers," he said. "Weddings are our biggest business, but we serve a lot of customers from the area."

Fridays are especially interesting, when loggers working the nearby woods come in to buy roses for their wives or girlfriends, Aument said.

"They're in dirty work clothes, but it doesn't matter," he said. "They want flowers."

Penn National, a 650-home golf-course community in Guilford Township, Pa., represents a significant customer base for the shop, Aument said. Walk-ins, too, represent a healthy share of the business.

Granted, having Strang Cemetery fairly close to the shop is good for business. Aument said there are regular customers who want artificial arrangements for gravesites.

Last fall, a representative from the TV show, "Martha Stewart Living," called and said the producers wanted to do a show on the flower shop in the woods. A production crew came out and filmed and interviewed Aument for a show that he said will not air until this fall.

Stewart was not with the crew. Aument said he expects to go to New York to tape a segment with Stewart before the show airs.

"I don't know much about how they do these things," he said. "I guess they'll just block her into the show."

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