Coming off a major “flower-sending” holiday like Valentine’s Day, we’d like to remind our customers about the importance of ordering flowers locally. Whether you are sending flowers across town or to another state, find a local florist and order directly through them; you’ll be happy that you did.

Local florists find themselves between a rock and a hard place these days. What once was a respectable business, “main street” flower shops are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat.  With steep competition from grocery stores and big box retailers, local flower shops have had to reinvent themselves time and again.

Enter the concept of wire services.

Originally created to link local brick and mortar flower shops to each other nationally (making it possible to place an order in Kansas City for delivery in Denver), wire services were owned by and for local florists. Today, those companies such as Just For You Flowers, ProFlowers, Bloomnet, 1-800Flowers, etc., are independently owned and selling direct to consumers at the expense of the local florist.  You see, these wire services are not florists, but rather order gatherers who take their cut and leave the local florist with pennies on the dollar to fulfill an order.  Yes, I’m sure that whoever sent you flowers spent a pretty penny on an arrangement that was portrayed in a picture as luscious and full.  Unfortunately, once the order taker has taken a cut, the local florist is left to fill and deliver a $75 order for far less.  Minus the delivery fee (yes, there is no such thing as “free delivery”), the recipient is now receiving a $45 (approximate) arrangement; a far cry from the $75 picture that was viewed online.

Customer is unhappy (and rightfully so) and local florist, who is trying to operate a business with hands tied behind their back, has their reputation dragged through the mud. So how can a consumer be a savvy shopper?  For starters, don’t hope that the business who “inherits” your online order can magically turn $35 into a $50 look plus delivery.  Instead, get that hard earned cash into your vase by ordering directly through a local florist.  Be careful when searching online, though, as most florists listed at the top of the page are order takers.  To be certain that you are calling a local florist, choose a flower shop with a local phone number and address (although that’s not always telling).  Call the shop saying that you would like to pick something out in person and need their hours of operation and location.  If they answer you honestly, then you’re safe.  If not, move on to the next business.

(Side note: After confirmation that they are an actual store, it’s okay to come clean.  There isn’t a brick and mortar florist in the country who won’t thank you for checking to be sure they they are real.)

Excerpts of this post are from an original BLOG post by Cinda Baxter for Independent Retailers, the 3/50 Project.

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