Things are hectic at Flowers on Fourteenth on this Wednesday afternoon. It’s just a few days before Valentine’s Day and the phone lines are down.
“This is great,” says owner Jeff Fritz. “Our busiest time of the year and we can’t take any orders.”
The shop — located, as the name implies, on 14th Street between R and S, N.W. — is still abuzz with activity. Fritz is in the back adding greenery to a large casket arrangement of pale blues and whites. He opened the shop 10 years ago with two employees but business has grown every year since. It now handles between 300 and 400 orders per week on average and has seven employees. Fritz relocated to his current spot eight months ago — obviously he had to stay on 14th for the name to work.
“I was always into flowers,” he says. “Other kids had lemonade stands, I sold flowers.”
The Westminster, Md., native got his first job in a flower shop when he was 15 and has never done anything else. But it’s a demanding profession — he makes the commute into D.C. seven days a week from the home he shares in Rockville with his partner of 16 years, Harold Beyer.
They originally ran the business together but found it was too much together time.
“We’d be together 24/7 so we’d get home and there wasn’t anything to talk about,” Fritz says.
They keep fresh flowers in their own home all the time. Fritz’s favorites are Casablanca lilies. Red roses and white and lavender orchids are the most popular flower he sells. Suppliers deliver them from all over — Columbia, Ecuador, Holland and more.
What’s the appeal?
“I think it’s the reason so many gay men are florists,” Fritz says. “The creativity.”
He and Beyer met in Miami through a mutual friend at a club during the seven years Fritz spent living there. He eventually returned to the D.C. area to be near family.
He works so much he says work is his hobby but he also enjoys playing with his two dogs, Rosie and Eve. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since I was 15 and came out to my mom.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
In Puerto Vallarta overlooking the ocean.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The disco clubs in Miami during the ‘80s.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Flower special at Flowers on Fourteenth.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Jeff’s Little Shop of Horrors”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep fighting for our rights!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Boys in the Band”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
To get a government job.
It’s a great town, with great history, culture and social life.