Why a True Florist is Worth The Price Difference

When I was going to college in a different city, I worked at a large chain grocery store. To the untrained eye, we carried all the same products as the florist across the street. Our customers did not know or perhaps care where our products came from. They simply saw cut flowers, plants, flower arrangements and even wedding flowers at a lower price. What they did not see was that those flower arrangements were created in a wholesaler’s warehouse far away.

These fresh looking arrangements were already a few days old and had been made quickly in a assembly line fashion. I often found that the stems were barely inserted into the floral foam and were not taking up the water at all.

Our department had a wedding package that was very competitively priced. These were also assembled far away. These bouquets came the day before, boxed, out of water and we had no idea when they had actually been made. They looked very typical and not creative. In all the flower deliveries, I frequently found that the flowers were second or third grade. Flowers are graded on quality and stem length etc. I also found that flower bunches did not have as many flower stems or greenery as the ones found at the florists. I even ran across tropical plants that had not been grown in a greenhouse, but outdoors in a sandy environment. Once these plants came indoors, they were shocked by the humidity and bugs began to crawl out of the ‘soil’. We had limited space, and the floral department was not always staffed.

Because of these issues our product was often received at the loading dock by the produce department. Let’s pause to imagine what ‘loading dock’, ‘forklift’, ‘produce department’ and delicate ‘fresh’ flowers looks like at six am. Perhaps you did not know but fresh flowers cannot be stored with produce such as apples. Apples release ethylene gas as they ripen, this gas damages flowers. When I have been ‘forced’ to buy flowers from a grocery store, I look for a produce worker and ask for the fresh flowers out of the produce cooler. They always have ‘fresh’ bunches of roses, carnations, lilies, etc. in the produce cooler. I know that these flowers are at a disadvantage because of their storage conditions, bit if I am visiting out of town and my help is needed making a quick bouquet, these flowers will provide temporary colour. I also know that I am ‘getting what I pay for’.

In the case of consumers ordering for special events, I wonder if they are aware of how much better it could be. When I left the floral department, the bulk food girl was promoted to floral department manager. I had ten years experience as a floral designer and manager, but was replaced by someone with no experience. I imagine that experience as a florist was not necessary when someone else was really doing all the work elsewhere.