Steve Geruso had been in a flower shop only once before he decided this was going to be his life. One day a friend needed help in his florist shop in Stamford -- and Steve fell in love with flowers. “I had an instant passion,” he says, smiling at the memory. “I knew I wanted to start a business,” says Steve, “but I didn’t know what it was going to be. Then I found flowers.”

Today, Steve operates out of a 10,000 square foot warehouse in Norwalk packed to its chilly rafters with fresh flowers from all over the world. But it didn’t happen overnight. With $2,500 borrowed on his credit card, Steve, who was born and raised in Darien, set off for the flower district on 28th Street in Manhattan in his Toyota Corolla. “I had no customers, no references, no warehouse,” he says, cheerfully. He bought a selection of flowers, drove back to Connecticut and sold them door-to-door to groceries and florists.

Six months later he was ready to expand. He decided to try importing. “I knew I had to buy flowers from Holland and South America but didn’t know how,” he says. During his trips to the flower district, Steve had noticed numbers on the flower boxes. “I figured they might be phone numbers so I trying calling one. I had no idea where I was calling,” he laughs. He’d reached a flower farm in Ecuador. He placed an order. Then he tried Holland. Soon he needed a warehouse.

Within two years East Coast Wholesale Florist, LLC had grown out of its space and moved into the new location in Norwalk. “I have 21 employees and we sell flowers from Old Saybrook down to New Rochelle,” says Steve. He even supplies flowers to the New York Botanical Gardens for their educational classes.

The days of selling door-to-door are over for Steve Geruso. You’re more likely to find the Stamford resident in Columbia, Italy or Ecuador checking on the farms that supply the extraordinary selection of everyday and exotic flowers he sells. But the place he likes to be is in front of the four computer screens that form his command center in the warehouse. “I talk to growers all over the world every day,” he says. “Right now I’ve put out a call for tiny roses so they’re all getting back to me by instant message.”

Have you started a business on a shoestring, like Steve Geruso? I’d love to hear. Email me at