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Longtime customer to take over Brumm's Bloomin' Barn, run it as Bloomin' Barn

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Longtime customer to take over Brumm's Bloomin' Barn, run it as Bloomin' Barn

Longtime customer David Gerlach poses with Jerry and Nancy Brumm, who are retiring after running Brumm's Bloomin' Barn for 50 years. It will be known as Bloomin' Barn when Gerlach takes over in January.

HIGHLAND — A longtime customer is buying the Brumm's Bloomin' Barn florist and gift shop, which will become Bloomin' Barn next year.

Owners Jerry and Nancy Brumm are retiring after more than 50 years of running the Region institution, which has been especially popular for its extravagant Christmas decorations. They initially had planned to close the store, often voted Best in the Region by Times readers, after a liquidation sale.

But longtime customer David Gerlach has stepped up to take over the store at 2540 45th St. in the Brumm Plaza as of Jan. 1. He will retain the entire staff, including the five floral designers.

"He knows the store very well and will keep it very similar," Jerry Brumm said. "He has the same kind of work ethic and likes people. Of course, he'll have some of his own ideas."

The Brumms founded the store in 1970 with just a few thousand dollars. They worked at another floral shop and thought they could run it better.

"We were young and very aggressive," Jerry Brumm said. "We wanted to sell unique things no other local stores had."

They opened a second Brumm's Bloomin' Barn in the Southlake Mall in Hobart in 1974 and ran it for 12 years before closing it in 1986, when they built Brumm's Plaza on 45th Street in Highland. They will continue to own and oversee the nine-unit shopping center that's home to Arrenello's Pizza, the Butterfingers delicatessen and other tenants who have been there since the start. 

They have kept adding onto Brumm's Bloomin' Barn over the years. It now occupies 5,200 square feet. They attribute their success to luck, skilled floral designers, good employees and high-quality service that's often lacking in modern retail.

"We served customers with the slogan 'quality and service aren't expensive, they are priceless,'" Nancy Brumm said. 

"People come in to take pictures with little children," she said. "It's exciting for them to see all the decorations."

They have served the Region for generations, providing floral arrangements to the weddings of the children of parents whose weddings they previously supplied flowers to.

"Customers were crying when they found out we were retiring," she said. "People come to our store for the experience. They see us as friends. They come for gifts they can't find anywhere else, for nice music, and nice people to talk to. It's the kind of place where people run into friends."

The Brumms brought in the freshest flowers they could from South America.

"Nobody grows flowers in this country anymore. It's too expensive," Nancy Brumm said. "We buy as many as we can to keep the price down."

They always emphasized quality with their floral arrangements.

"We have the best employees," Jerry Brumm said. "One has been here 27 years. They work very hard and we try to give (customers) good values. We're very fussy with what leaves the store. We want to be proud of it."

The Brumms traveled to trade shows all over the country in Dallas, Atlanta, Florida, Las Vegas and California to find unique gifts to sell. They also stopped by gift shops whenever traveling to get ideas.

They carried many hot-selling items over the years, including balloons, Michael Jackson gloves, posters and hats and Beanie Babies.

"Beanie Babies were so big people would follow the UPS truck to our store and say, 'We know you have some new ones in stock,'" Jerry Brumm said.

They always tried to create nice atmosphere with unique gifts people couldn't find anywhere else. Longtime loyal customers have been sad to hear that they are retiring, but the Brumms said it was time.

"We'll do a little traveling, enjoy our grandkids more and don't worry about rising at the crack of dawn every morning," Jerry Brumm said. "We'll be able to get up later and have two cups of coffee."

But they said they would miss the customers most of all.

"In a way we're happy but we're sad we won't see our customers after 50, almost 51 years," he said. "We know these people. They just love our store and coming to see it for Christmas. We want to thank everybody and appreciate their loyalty. We wanted to make people happy and satisfy the customers. Hopefully that rubbed off on the employees and they will carry on our legacy."

2020 The Times Best of the Region

Welcome to The Times Media Company’s Best of the Region for 2020.

When voting began in early March, we couldn't have predicted the changes to business as usual that we have experienced.

Still, thanks to the pluck of local entrepreneurs and dedication of our readers, we are presenting our annual look at the best restaurants, services, places to live and more in the Region.

This year we added an ambitious 40 categories for a total of 176, and we are proud to profile these businesses and providers that you chose in the monthlong voting.

This contest is the culmination of another year of interacting with our readers, telling stories about people and places that make a difference in our communities and championing the local businesses that serve as the backbone of the Region. It's also a testament to the resilience of the Region.

This is a process you, our readers, take seriously, casting 320,282 total votes, up 28% from 2019. That includes an 11% increase in write-in votes.

All this from 36,068 registered users, an increase of 84% from 2019. That speaks to more than the fact that we have been spending a lot more time at home. It expresses the understanding that the Region is poised to rebound from the limitations imposed by the coronavirus.

What accounts for the staying power of Best of the Region? Perhaps it's how we recognize the value of hard work and the chance to applaud businesses that respect our time and resources and consistently exceed our expectations. A Best of the Region nod is not only a well-deserved “thank you” to those who truly care for their customers, but it also reinforces those efforts.

These pages contain a number of first-time winners including Anytime Fitness, Jay Marie Salon & Spa and the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in addition to stalwarts such as Albert's Diamond Jewelers, Centier Bank and Strack & Van Til that annually dominate their categories. But whether the business is big or small, time-honored or cutting-edge, all have excellence in common.

So on behalf of the Times, I’d like thank the readers who took the time to thoughtfully complete the ballot and offer our congratulations to the winners. Here’s to another year of “the best” in the Region!

Chris White


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

Related to this story

Lee Enterprises, which owns The Times of Northwest Indiana and more than other daily newspapers across the country, rolled out Buy Local websites in all its markets nationwide earlier this year to help people support local businesses in their own communities. The platform showcases local shops and merchants that are selling gift cards that would make perfect gifts this holiday season.

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