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A Beer Company Threatens to Nip in the Bud Some Old-Fashioned Texas Enterprise

updated 02/13/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/13/1984 01:00AM

When you say "Bud"—as anyone who's watched a sporting event on television in the United States of America must know by now—you've said a lot of things nobody else can say. Unfortunately, Mary Ann Woodruff of Houston has apparently not been watching television. Last year she opened a small flower shop and, capitalizing on the inspiration of a friend, dubbed it "This Bud's for You." Now she feels as if she's been trampled by a team of Clydesdales.

The flower business has not been a bed of roses for Mary Ann, who decided to open the shop to give herself financial stability after her husband, J.B., suffered a massive coronary two years ago. He's back at work as a Houston police sergeant now, but she has persevered in her dream, even though she lost $8,000 last year.

But her biggest problem came in December when Houston lawyer Paul Janicke called and asked her to pop over to his office for a frosty chat with a representative of Anheuser-Busch. She built up a head of resentment at that: "The English language is for anyone to use," she fumed. "We've certainly never claimed any connection to Budweiser, and we certainly don't sell the same things. This is ridiculous!" Janicke followed up the call with a letter. Mary Ann responded, she says, by scrawling, "Go straight to hell! Strong letter to follow!" on the missive and sending it back to the author. Attorney Janicke was miffed. "The extreme discourtesy of the Woodruffs may be a factor in the company's final decision," he said ominously. But even he admits that Anheuser-Busch is concerned about what is rapidly becoming a cause célèbre. "Obviously," he observes, "public sympathy lies with the little guy."

It does indeed. People have called the Woodruff home from as far away as Ohio to cheer on the Flower Shop Lady in her fight with the Beer Barons. "The postman heard about it," Mary Ann says, "and he asked me if I would change the name if Anheuser-Busch offered me money. I told him no—that I have to stand on the principle of the thing." She pauses to reflect. "Now that the publicity has started, it's even getting exciting. Maybe I ought to thank them."

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