Florist cites rent increase for move from Brown Palace

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Bouquets owner BJ Dyer has moved his flower shop to the Golden Triangle. (Maia Luem/BusinessDen)

Business at The Brown Palace is no longer blooming.

Bouquets, the flower shop that operated in the downtown hotel’s annex building, has moved out. Owner BJ Dyer said the hotel wanted him to pay $10,000 a month for his roughly 650-square-foot space. 

“I would have to sell diamonds in there at a high profit,” Dyer said. “I can’t sell enough flowers, even if I was open 24 hours, to pay $10,000 a month.” 

Dyer moved the 39-year-old flower shop to the annex building at the corner of 17th and Tremont — the one that’s a Holiday Inn — almost four years ago, after selling Bouquets’ former real estate in LoDo. 

While business was good, he said the Brown Palace space itself had HVAC issues. The summer was often spent working in over-90-degree temperatures, and in the winter the heat would fail. The last freeze resulted in “a tropical rainstorm of boiling hot water that came down from the ceiling” when the heat came back on two days later, he said. 

“The irony of it was that while this is all going on, we were also negotiating the lease,” he said. 

Despite the issues, Dyer said, he would have stayed had the rent remained reasonable. 

“They had a new general manager who is a very nice lady but her instructions from the ownership, from what I understand, was to maximize profits and cut expenses as much as possible,” Dyer said.

When Dyer moved in mid-pandemic, the hotel had a different general manager, with whom Dyer said he had an evolving handshake agreement. Bouquets provided flowers for the hotel, then paid rent that varied based on how much had been provided.

In an email to BusinessDen, Jana Smith, The Brown Palace’s new general manager, emphasized that Bouquets did not have a contract. She claimed Bouquets hadn’t been paying rent and said “technically they were squatters.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Dyer told BusinessDen in response. “The Brown Palace is going to let us be squatters for three and a half years? If we were squatters and she came in as a new manager wouldn’t she get rid of us the first month?” 

The former Bouquets space, where the hotel itself used to run a flower shop, sits unused since Dyer moved out. 

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The space that Bouquets operated in at 17th and Tremont sits empty. (Thomas Gounley/BusinessDen)

The Brown Palace was purchased in 2018 for $125 million by Texas-based Crescent Real Estate. Connecticut-based HEI Hotels & Resorts was hired to manage it.

Last month, Westword reported the hotel laid off its bellhops and doormen, and hired Chicago-based SP Plus, a corporate valet company. Those affected by the layoffs told Westword the decision was “a cost-saving measure.” 

As for Dyer, he moved Bouquets to 1070 Bannock St. in the Golden Triangle. 

Dyer signed a five-year lease for 2,500 square feet and is paying about $4,000, not including common area maintenance cost, he said. He spent less than $10,000 on light buildout of the space, which was formerly home to a photography studio.

Bouquets did roughly $1.5 million in revenue last year, which Dyer said is still “substantially” down from pre-pandemic figures. 

Nearly 40 years in, Dyer has weathered the seasons. He’s had as few as one location and as many as four. He’s worked solo and also had up to 15 employees.

Now on Bannock Street, with a little extra “elbow room,” he has five employees and can see growing that to seven, but no more. 

“I’ll be happy and can live off the rest of my floral life with that,” Dyer said. 

As for the Brown Palace, Dyer said there’s no hard feelings. He said he even left the general manager a parting bouquet.

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