A Little Cheer
On King George Street
How many people
can say their job is all about spreading joy? Not many. But Sandi
Latham, owner of Sandi's Flowers on King George Street, can say
so for sure. With her flowers, she brings a little sunshine and
happiness to her customers. "Even at the worst of times, flowers
can bring a little cheer," she says. "I love being part of that."
Owner for little more than a year, Latham had worked at the shop
when she and her family were stationed here in the late '80s.
"I walked into the store one Valentine's Day and made an off-handed
comment about how I would love to work in a place like this,"
she says. The owner told her to come back later that day, and
Latham ended up working at the shop until her husband, then a
Navy officer, was reassigned. "I really loved it. I loved the
feel of it. So when Kevin and I returned to Annapolis, I went
back to see if I could buy it." Unfortunately, the store had just
been sold, but she left her name with the new owner. A few months
later, the call she was waiting for came and the shop was hers.
Since Latham doesn't have formal training in floral design and
is new to the business world, it hasn't been easy. But, she says
she has a vision. And thanks to the help of some great employees,
especially Lindsay Gonzalez, whom Latham describes as the creative
genius behind the store, she is succeeding. She has created what
she calls a European bucket shop that is very informal and full
of flowers. "We are also one of the few businesses in the area
that really serves locals," she says. "That's why our logo is
'Your Neighborhood Flower Shop.'" Latham and her employees work
hard to remember customers' names and to get to know them and
their preferences for flowers.
Annapolis made a strong impression on Latham and her family during
their first few years here and, when it came time to decide just
where home was going to be, this city was at the top of their
list. "We started talking about the many places we had lived over
the years, and we decided Annapolis was it," she says. "It offers
a beautiful historic district, which we love, and the area has
good job opportunities for Kevin, and good military facilities.
And, of course, there is the sailing." It also probably didn't
hurt that the Latham's oldest son is at the Naval Academy. "A
lot of things drew us back, and we have been extremely happy with
our decision," says Latham.
Upon their return, Latham and her husband bought a small house
in the historic district just a few blocks from the docks, and
they enjoy being part of the downtown community. "I especially
love the early mornings in Annapolis when restaurant workers are
putting out the garbage and store owners are hosing down the sidewalks,"
she says. "It's a peaceful time when the people who live here
can have the city to themselves." The Lathams often get up bright
and early and walk downtown. They stop by the bakery for a pastry
and a cup of coffee and then sit back and enjoy the quiet routine
of it all.
This comfortable feeling of belonging is important to Latham after
a childhood in which her officer father moved the family frequently.
"I was an Air Force brat. I was born in Louisiana, and my family
spent a few years there," she says. "Then I grew up in a variety
of Midwestern and Southern states." But Latham admits that the
repeated moves weren't all bad because it made her more capable
of managing new and uncomfortable situations and, as a result,
she believes she is well-adjusted and adaptable. "I think military
kids get to experience some really great adventures and are usually
well-rounded as a result," she says.
Latham's high school years were spent in South Dakota. She later
attended the University of Connecticut when her father was a resident.
Choosing pre-med in the beginning of her education, she moved
into speech pathology and audiology after taking a course in special
ed and being captivated by language. She spent most of the next
24 years working in the public school system as a certified speech
pathologist. "I got lucky. Speech pathology turned out to be a
very interesting and rewarding career."
Latham met her husband in college. Her father couldn't believe
she could fall for a Navy man. "But he got over the shock, and
now he and my husband are great friends," she says. "My husband
still calls my dad 'the Colonel'."
Married for 29 years, Latham and her husband have two sons, Conor,
a first class midshipman at the Naval Academy, and Taylor, a sophomore
at St. Mary's College. "They are both great, and we are very proud
As the daughter and, eventually, wife of military men, Latham
has traveled extensively and lived in many different places. But,
without a doubt, she says Russia was both the most exciting and
most difficult place to live. Her husband was stationed there
in the early '90s and served as the assistant naval attaché in
Moscow. "When we arrived, it was still the U.S.S.R. About three
months after we got there, the coup occurred, and when we left
in 1993, it was Russia," she says. "We lived right across the
street from the Russian White House. We saw tanks rumbling through
the streets of Moscow and actually witnessed the fall of communism
first hand." Living in Russia was a rich experience, but she admits
it wasn't all excitement. There were food shortages and restrictions
because of communism. It wasn't all thrills, but she's glad they
did it. "It was an amazing and rare experience," says Latham.
After a lifetime of travel around the globe first as a child,
then as wife and mother, Latham has finally set down some firm
roots in Annapolis. And as the years pass, she hopes that her
shop will continue to grow and prosper and her family will continue
to blossom. For her part, she'll continue to spread the seeds
of happiness as she brings a little sunshine to the world with