By Betsy Hall, Hall’s Flower Shop and Garden Center
As my calendar moves forward to February, and I begin thoughts of Valentine’s Day and how to show my love the depths of my devotion, roses often come to mind. Ah, the red rose. I see them everywhere: airport kiosks, grocery store bins, gas station counters and online ads. But wait, this purchase is for someone I LOVE. I want to express the most treasured of all human emotions…this can’t be bought at the same place I purchase tooth paste or regular unleaded, can it? Can love be “Googled” and purchased with a credit card in a transaction void of any understanding of how precious my beloved is? Can this day, which is designed for lovers, in truth, for my lover and I, be trusted to an 800-number I dial on my smart phone? As a traditional “Brick and Mortar” florist I’ve been asked these questions many times and I believe I have the perfect answer.
When you want to send someone flowers, care enough to seek out a florist in your neighborhood. Why not just take the easy way out?
1.) Your local florist cares about you and the person you are sending flowers to. We want to be YOUR florist. Florists understand that life has many cherished moments that are celebrated with flowers and we want you to come back and do business with us again and again. Your (and your recipient’s) satisfaction is guaranteed 100%!
2.) Your local florist cares about flowers. We get it. Red roses say "I love you" in a way that yellow never could. A good florist will always send the flowers that you ordered on the date you specify for delivery.
3.) Your local florist understands that you work hard for your money. We do too. When floral orders are placed on a national website or from an 800 number, those companies are known to charge a service fee of $15.00-$20.00 or more for the privilege of handling your order. These dollars are spent with a company that does not have flowers, floral designers, floral coolers or delivery trucks. They are housed in call centers. So when an order is placed, the service fee is kept by the “broker” and the order is sent to one of two places.
4.) The flowers you purchased for your beloved are tightly cabled tied together to the bottom of a cardboard box with unpacking and designing instructions, put on an overnight truck and left on your beloved’s doorstep. Compare this to promising your Valentine a romantic dinner out, to be treated like royalty, but instead he or she must set the table, chop the salad, grill the entree and wash the dishes themselves. The romance just went down the drain along with the soap suds and any positive local economic impact your purchase would have made had you shopped local.
5.) The flowers you purchased for your beloved are designed and delivered by a florist in your town that received your order from the ‘broker”. If you spent $100.00 for flowers, chocolates and delivery (not counting the service fee mentioned above), the florist received, $73.00 to fill your order to full value. The florist also paid $2.50 to report this order (required by the broker) so it cost the florist $29.50 to fill your order in additional to the cost of goods, labor and delivery expense. Who’s the winner here? Not you or the local florist! These dollars did not contribute to the sales tax revenue of your city or state. The florist has most likely incurred at best break even of costs or often a loss for filling your order. Many florists are resigned to operating this way due to lost hope that the consumer will only choose a national flower “broker.”
National floral marketers are taking over our market share. It’s tough for a florist to compete with a company that doesn’t handle a perishable product, have flat tires or donate flowers for a fundraiser for your son’s little league team. Instead, they use their money to advertise online as though they are local florists. Some are so deceptive they create an online Place Page with a local address and phone number but in reality, it’s an empty storefront. They make empty promises like “free delivery,” when in truth, they build it into the price of the transaction.
How can you find real local florists? Search for a local florist online or visit IndependentWeStand.org to search their independent business database. Look for one with a local address and phone number and follow your search up with a phone call asking the following questions. Where are you located? Can I visit your store? What flowers do you carry? Do you deliver to this address in your own trucks? If the person is vague in answering any of these questions, try again until you find a true local brick and mortar florist that cares about you. I promise they will appreciate your business. Local florists are smart, we know that a successful Valentine flower delivery is the starting point to a romantic Valentine evening…and you’ll be back for more!
Betsy Hall and her husband Ken are the owners of Hall’s Flower Shop and Garden Center in Stone Mountain Georgia. Their metro Atlanta area shop was founded in 1947 by Ken’s parents. Betsy is a founding board member and active member of Real Local Florists, a grass-roots advocate for the traditional retail florist dedicated to improving the economics of the retail florist. Betsy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.