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This computer business is blooming

Peanut butter and chocolate? Naturally.

Steak and eggs? A classic breakfast.

Flowers and computer repair? Two business owners are hoping their combination comes just as naturally to people around Farmington.

Chris Buckley and Vida Raine will open Buds & Bytes, that combination flower shop and computer repair business, next week in downtown Farmington.

Neither Buckley nor Raine is new to the business world. For the past five years Buckley's computer repair business and Raine's flower shop have shared a space in Silver Bay, a small town about an hour north of Duluth. But with that city's population dwindling and the school district likely on the verge of combining grades the couple decided to take their 4-year-old twin daughters and move to a bigger market. They looked at a lot of suburbs, but four of Raine's younger siblings graduated from Farmington High School and they liked the school system. They found a good location here and they've spent the weeks since both getting the space ready and moving to Farmington. Buckley has lived in Farmington since got the keys to their space at 213 Oak St. They moved the last of their household goods last weekend.

There's still some work to do before the new shop is ready but Buckley and Raine are confident the two-in-one approach will be a good fit for Farmington.

"We serve two very different demographics," Buckley said. "She deals a lot with Mother's Day and grandmothers and that's a very hard demographic to reach for computer repair. I deal a lot with the 20-year-old males, which are hard to reach for florists."

The flower shop half of the business will offer displays for special occasions as well as everyday flowers. The computer repair business will offer repair, data recovery and training. Buckley and Raine also plan to provide free wireless Internet access to the downtown area from a hot spot in their shop.

Over the years, Buckley and Raine have discovered they work well together.

"We're actually getting to the point where I'm about an average florist and she's about an average computer repair person," Buckley said.

That should come in handy in the next few days. Between moving a household and getting a business ready to open its doors, there are going to be some long hours.

"It's stressful but we're so excited about it," Raine said.

Buds & Bytes is scheduled to open Aug. 4.


Both Buckley and Raine have several years of experience in their respective fields.

Raine went to school for graphic design and marketing but after seven years working in that field she got tired of her commute and started looking for something different. She took some classes in flower design and discovered she had some skill. She described it as graphic design in three dimensions instead of two.

"It's really calming. You always get to do something different," she said. "Most of the weddings up on the North Shore are destination weddings.... They always want cutting edge and what's in the latest magazines."

Buckley got into computer repair in 1993, when Internet connectivity was first spreading into Silver Bay. Buckley, who said he loves playing with the latest technolgy, saw an opportunity.

"Somebody needed to be the (technology) guy, and I started in with that," he said.