Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and to be perfectly honest, it is probably my least favorite time to be in this business. Most florists love Valentine’s Day. After all, for many of us it’s the biggest floral holiday of the year and what most florists make in February on this holiday has to carry them through the long slow weeks of March and even into April before the wedding season starts to pick up again.
But the truth is, I didn’t start out trying to be like most florists and this holiday just proves my point. It’s not that I have anything against the holiday itself. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite customers who lives in a retirement community down the street just ordered from me again and I adore working with this man. (I can’t wait to tell you the sweet sweet story about how he and his wife treated each other to flowers on Valentine’s Day last year–but more on that later).
So what is it about Valentine’s Day that drives me nuts? It’s the damn flowers themselves. For one thing the quality of most flowers is just not that great. The roses are typically lousy because they are cut way too early and held in cold storage for way too long. And I, as a buyer, have no absolute knowledge of how my purchases have been handled prior to the sale. My reps call me and urge me to pre-order to get the best price and they are deadly serious. My roses TRIPLE at Valentines Day. I’m talking about my actual COSTS. And we’re not even talking about terrific roses. Some of the reps insist that for every 100 roses I order I take 30 of them in whatever colors they want to ship and the rest will be red. If I pre-order I get a small break on the price, but believe me when I tell you I am still overpaying for them, especially given the quality. I don’t blame the reps–they’re overpaying for them, too! And perhaps I can’t blame the growers either becasue they are only trying to cash in on the biggest day of the year and it allows them to keep their prices more reasonable the rest of the year. But in my opinion–this is one hot mess.
The pre-ordering only adds to the nightmare because then we have to charge just a little bit more to make-up for the fact that we may have over-ordered–especially if there is a snowstorm, which really throws a wrench into the works. Orders drop off, deliveries can’t be made, she can’t get to work so her roses sit in the office for three days before she sees them… Like I said, it’s one hot mess.
And if all of this nonsense isn’t enough to deal with we good florists find ourselves explaining over and over again why it is that 1-800-FLOWERS can deliver a dozen roses to your doorstep for $29.99 with no delivery charges and my dozen roses are typically $79.95 plus delivery. I wish I could explain it but sometimes there’s no explaining something (without sounding bitter). Suffice it to say–I’m not Walmart.
So where does that leave us? The best I can do during this holiday is to seek out the very best flowers I can find. True garden roses are always good because they CAN’T be cut too early. I can also encourage my customers to try different flowers for Valentines Day–Stargazer Lily’s, Tuberoses (mmmm-they smell heavenly), deep plum colored Naomi Calla Lily, Peony, Lilac–so many beautiful alternatives.
Take a look at two of our most popular designs. We love these designs all year long, not just for Valentine’s Day!
Now, I did promise to tell you about the darling couple who live down the street from our studio in a retirement center. These two are madly in love with one another and last year, Mr. Perfect Husband arranged for me to do a piece for his wife for Valentine’s Day in a favorite piece of her china. It was to be delivered to the front desk at their center and I was to ask the desk to come and get him, but not mention anything to his wife so that he could present it to her. What he didn’t know was that Mrs. Wonderful Wife had made the very same request–that a piece be made for him in one of his favorite pieces of stoneware and that it be delivered to the front desk where I was to instruct the staff to call her but not mention anything to him so that she could present it to him as a surprise! It was so much fun to be a part of their Valentine surprise to one another.
Ahhh–maybe it’s not such a bad holiday afterall.