Buying Flowers? Don't Get Duped -- Find a Real Florist
February 11, 2013 at 7:13 PM
By Jeff Milchen
February 5, 2013
There’s comfort in selecting a plant or floral arrangement when you’re working with a local florist in your community, where you can literally smell the flowers. But what about buying for someone in another place?
Unfortunately, the Internet and Yellow Pages are rife with businesses adept at making themselves appear as if they are shops in the city or town where you want the gift delivered, when they actually are just middlemen. These order-gatherers take a large portion of your payment, then arrange with a real florist to have a cheaper arrangement delivered (they commonly charge $70 or more for bouquet you could purchase directly for $50). This just leaves the recipient with a lesser gift and you with less money.
Independent florists, quite naturally, will first ensure their direct customers get the best quality product and service -- especially at popular holidays. Remy Brault of Labellum in Bozeman, Montana notes, “When you choose a local florist, you get someone who can learn about your specific wishes and the recipient to create something they'll love, rather than a cookie cutter arrangement.”
How to Ensure You're Getting Full Value
If searching online, look past the paid ads, which almost always are dominated by national order services (which offer a legitimate service, but take a hefty commission) or businesses fraudulently posing as local.
In your search results, look for businesses with a listed street address and phone number (a phone number alone is not reliable evidence of a genuine local business, as faux-local businesses often buy local numbers.) Simply call to ask when and where you can visit, suggests Betsy Hall of Hall's Flower Shop and Garden Center in Stone Mountain, Georgia. “If the person is vague in answering any of these questions, try again [somewhere else].”
By the way, don't worry about offending the owner—Brault believes any real independent florist will appreciate your making the effort.
She also notes that, in addition to providing a higher quality product, independent florists often generate local and environmental benefits compared to chain supermarkets with a floral department. “I work hard to buy from local suppliers where I can...a woman who lives just one mile from our store grows for us much of the year.”
Naturally, that doesn't include February in Montana! Those in colder climes seeking to give the gift of flowers via eco-friendly choices should seek advice on flowering plants from their local independent garden center.
Lastly, consider ordering early. “We go from a norm of 40 orders a day to 1200 for Valentine's Day,” warns Alaina Huffman of Lisa Dee's Florist in Knightdale, NC. “Don't risk waiting until Valentine’s Day to order.” Brault echoed that sentiment, saying, “The sooner you get your order in, the more likely you'll get exactly what you're seeking.” Advice to remember for other busy holidays like Easter and Mother's Day, too!
Addendum: Though the lead is buried at the end, this recent story by a reporter who compared actual delivered bouquets from the major online order-takers to local florists, supports the views those interviewed for this story. It concludes that the local florists offered "...[the] most vibrant roses, and beautiful accents, was by far the most impressive!"