Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a note on florists and buying flowers.

an original arrangement from Sprout Home
Whether you like it or not, Valentine's Day is fast approaching. And despite myself I am longing for some flowers. I used to pretend I didn't want anything special on February 14; my practical side reminded me that flowers get marked up because of the high demand. It was all a sham, though, and now that I have such a wonderful person to celebrate with, I am putting away all pretenses: bring me a bouquet!
Now, ordering flowers can seem a bit daunting. Sure, you can go to your local grocery store and pick up something pre-done (and they're not half bad!) but come February, the prices on those blooms will be going through the roof, whereas the prices at your local florist might stay the same or allow a little bargaining. I'm here to give you the insider scoop today on how to get something special for your someone special without putting a hole in your wallet. Tips and tricks after the jump!

Pick up or Delivery?
Maybe you're a romantic and you want to surprise your sweetheart with a bouquet delivered straight to her cubicle so all her co-workers can see what a stud you are. If so, be prepared to spend at the very least $40. Most florists have a minimum order for delivery, usually around $30, and their delivery fee will run anywhere from $7-12 on top of that. However, if you are going to give it to her in person, you have the opportunity to save a little cash. First of all, go to the actual store. There used to be a local florist in Cincinnati who offered an automatic 40% discount when a patron walked in and paid with cash. Most flower sales are called in and get paid with credit card. There's still something to be said for the power of straight up cash, folks. Do note, however, that you may want to stop in a few days in advance to order your bouquet. If you want something arranged, pre-order. Your florist is going to be swamped come the 14th, and you want to make sure you've got a place on the docket beforehand.

Something Unique
More traditional arrangements are pretty typical from
wire services, like this Valentine's Day special from FTD
Another advantage of walking in to a florist's shop rather than calling or ordering online is that you can often actually speak to the florist, who is very knowledgeable about their craft, rather than just the desk girl who answers the phone (believe me, I know. I am that girl at the florist where I work). Florists are talented and creative people. Unfortunately, to better cater to our mass-produced culture, most of them have to adopt services like TeleFlora, FTD, or 1-800-flowers. Now I'm not saying these companies are inherently bad, but what happens is your local florist doesn't get any creative say when you order an arrangement you see online. These companies strive to make things uniform across the country, so that you can go online in, say, California and order a bouquet of flowers for your aunt in Tallahassee and you know what she is getting. Obviously, no one is going to ship that bouquet from the west coast to Florida. No, they call a local florist there who makes the item and delivers it. That local florist just replicates the picture you saw online. Now, if you aren't ordering from a distance and you know of a reputable florist, here's what you can do: Go to the shop. Talk to the florist and tell them what sort of flowers your honey likes and dislikes. Tell them her favorite colors. Tell them how much money you want to spend. A florist knows exactly how much each stem in an arrangement costs, and they will fill your order to the precise amount that you give them. Plus, they can say, "oh, I just got some lilies in that color," or can order certain flowers in for you at no extra cost. I guarantee you'll end up with something more unique and personal at a better value for your money.

from Saipua flowers
If you really want to cut down on the price tag, bring your own container from home for the florist to fill. You can bring in a vase, an urn, or a basket. If a florist supplies the container, it can add around $5 or more. By bringing your own, you are paying purely for the flowers and the florist's services. Usually a bouquet for $20-$25 will be on the small side, but if you supply the vase you can take home something pretty sizable. Plus, it provides you with an opportunity to be creative: does your lady have an old heirloom she holds dear, like a mug or teacup? These small containers can cost very little to fill but have just as much meaning as something large due to the sentimental factor.

When it comes to flowers, sometimes you're better off going old school. Walk in, use cash, and actually have a face-to-face conversation with a local artisan. There are some great florists making a comeback these days by doing fresher, less traditional work, like Sprout Home and The Monkey Flower Group. These shops do all original work and don't subscribe to any of the corporate wire services. It's hard for florists in more traditional areas to survive without those services, though, and so that means they mostly produce traditional looking items. That doesn't mean they are unable to tap into a different aesthetic. Give them a chance to use their own creativity and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. -hil
by the Monkey Flower Group

No comments:

Post a Comment